TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) The wounds from Alabama’s national championship game were still fresh when Jalen Hurts mentally closed the book on his mostly terrific freshman season.
There was an unpredictably rapid rise to stardom, a national title that slipped from the grasp of Hurts and the Crimson Tide and, yes, the rookie flaws. The young quarterback had lots of work to do.
And a bright future to look toward.
”I ain’t worried about anything that happened last year,” Hurts said early in fall camp. ”I moved on, that book is over, that chapter is over. Now it’s time to write a new one, write chapter two.”
Chapter one was pretty thrilling even if it ended with a huge disappointment. The Crimson Tide lost to Clemson on a last-second touchdown in the national title game, but Alabama is hoping Hurts was just beginning to tap his potential. Last season he uncorked an array of big plays with both his arm and his legs.
Chapter two begins on Sept. 2 when the top-ranked Tide opens against No. 3 Florida State in Atlanta. For all the resilience and talent Hurts flashed last season, late-season passing struggles reminded everyone that while he is talented, he still was a freshman.
Improving his passing skills has been a primary focus for Hurts and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll throughout the offseason.
Hurts was good enough to be named Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year. He flirted with 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards while accounting for 36 touchdowns.
Things didn’t click as well late in the season. Hurts totaled 326 passing yards in the SEC championship game and two playoff games against strong defenses that adapted to what he could do well and what he couldn’t at the time.
It led to some criticism even after thriving most of the way as the first true freshman quarterback to start for coach Nick Saban. Hurts found an easy way to ignore most of that.
”No Twitter, no Instagram since the end of school,” the 6-foot-2, 218-pounder said. ”I’m locked in.”
Tide lineman Ross Pierschbacher, however, said Hurts ”has a chip on his shoulder” coming into this season.
Source: Fox Sports