The Freshman Quarterback Duel That Was the College Football National Championship
Anybody who watched the 2018 College Football National Championship will remember the game for a long time. Two dominant defenses, a teacher (Saban) vs. student (Smart) showdown, future NFL players everywhere you look, a halftime quarterback change, and a 40-yard bomb to win the game. With all this excitement packed into one game things can get confusing, so here I will be breaking down the QB performances that made Alabama vs Georgia the focus of the sports world.
Tua to the Rescue
Tua Tagovailoa’s performance in the second half launched him from a talented 18-year-old second string QB to a Crimson Tide hero, with his name forever written in the college football history books. As the Crimson Tide terrorized everyone on their schedule Tua threw 53 times, mostly in garbage time. For comparison, Baker Mayfield threw 404 times and Jalen Hurts 286 times. To fully understand the pressure surrounding this second half spectacle, the scene needs to be set. Imagine you are Tua Tagovailoa; you are playing in the national championship, a game which has enough pressure to cripple even the best players. You have only played in garbage time so far this season. You didn’t know you would play until halftime and oh yeah here is the kicker, your team is down 13-0. Tua Tagovailoa disregarded all those elements and put on a Johnny Football style performance. He scampered around the field evading pass rushers like a boxer dodging haymakers. Tua did everything from running for first downs on 3rd and long to launching 40-yard bombs to win the game. Sure he made a couple bad decisions on the run and took a couple bad sacks, but those are the mistakes you can only fix through in-game reps. Tua Tagovailoa was a highly touted recruit, but as we all know, stars mean nothing. That being said, Tua definitely proved himself and I am excited to see how this young man changes the landscape of college football.
Jake Fromm Can Sling the Rock
Another true freshman QB who performed under the spotlight. Now, Fromm’s stat line may be a little underwhelming (16/32 for 232 yards, a TD, and a pair of INTs), but don’t overreact to the numbers. Fromm was making big plays all night. Not many freshman QBs can sit in the pocket on their own goal line and take a hit as throws a perfect ball across the middle, squeezing between the linebacker and safety to jumpstart a drive. He threw a back-shoulder fade with perfect timing for a big third-down conversion. One play Fromm hit a receiver right by the sideline on a 20-yard deep out route, that throw takes a strong arm, there are NFL quarterbacks who can’t make that throw. If you still don’t believe the arm on this kid; he threw a ball that traveled 60 yards in the air and dropped right in the receiver’s bread-basket, no need to even break stride. Also, all of these throws will be included in the quick highlight clip below.