Whether Nick Saban gave up on Jalen Hurts or the offensive philosophy just changed, Alabama’s loss has certainly been Oklahoma’s gain.
In 2016 Hurts took the Tide to the College Football Playoff Championship by completing 62.8% of his passes for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 191 times for 954 yards and 13 more touchdowns. It was a performance that earned him a plethora of awards – SEC Freshman of the Year (coaches), SEC Newcomer of the Year (AP), SEC Offensive Player of the Year (coaches and AP), first-team All-SEC (coaches and AP) and a freshman All-American by ESPN and USA Today – and set him up to be on the Heisman shortlist. Unfortunately a year later it all came crashing down.
Trailing the Georgia Bulldogs 13-0 at the half, Saban and the Tide were looking at a second consecutive loss in the Championship game. Going with the unthinkable, Saban benched Hurts in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa. Bama came back to win 26-23, in overtime, and the one-time Heisman front-runner was relegated to the role of backup for the rest of his days in Tuscaloosa.
Enter the NCAA graduate-transfer rule and Hurts had the opportunity to be reborn at Oklahoma under the tutelage of quarterback guru Lincoln Riley and the results have been remarkable. You could even say, almost as remarkable as how much people can forget about a player’s talent.
Jalen Hurts had the college football world eating out of the palm of his hands. Yet a loss in the C.F.P. Championship game and getting benched a year later made him an afterthought to most of the same folks who had been lauding him as a Heisman Hopeful just a year earlier.
Riley has unlocked the beast within Hurts’ soul and the former 4-star recruit, and top dual-threat prospect, is more focused than ever before. Now he’s back on top of the Heisman race and it’s the same folks who once forgot about him that have placed him there.
Through the first three games of the season Hurts has accounted for more touchdowns (13) than he has incomplete passes (12). Not only that, he leads the nation, among players with at least 38 carries, with a 9.8 yards per carry average. He also leads all quarterbacks with a 250.2 passer rating and a 14.4 yards per passing attempt average.
1. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Hurts had 99 rushing yards on Oklahoma’s opening drive because he isn’t going to even let you think there’s a chance he is not staying atop the Heisman rankings.ESPN
In three games this season, Hurts has completed 80.3 percent of his passes for 880 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception, while at the same time, is leading the Sooners in rushing with 373 yards and another four scores on the ground. While it’s still early, there is no question at this point of the season, Hurts is right in the middle of the Heisman Trophy discussion following his fast start.Saturday Down South
The tools have always been there for Hurts, even if there needed to be a little polish applied. After Saturday’s 439-yard outburst that was as effortless as they come, it’s safe to say that’s being applied in practice and in games by Riley on his budding new pupil.Athlon
Following Week 3 of the 2019 season, he (Hurts) leads or is tied with Heisman quarterback favorites Joe Burrow, Sam Ehlinger, Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields in total yards and touchdowns.
Hurts: 1,253 yards, 13 TDs
Burrow: 1,162 yards, 12 TDs
Ehlinger: 1,077 yards, 12 TDs
Lawrence: 886 yards, 8 TDs
Fields: 771 yards,13 TDs247Sports
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