TAMPA, Fla. — Alabama’s Jalen Hurts has a better idea of what Clemson QB Deshaun Watson went through last year and has ahead of him in two days more than anyone could realize.
The Crimson Tide (14-0) play the Tigers (13-1) at 8:17 p.m. ET on Monday at Raymond James Stadium in the College Football Playoff championship game (TV: ESPN).
Hurts, who enrolled at Alabama last January, was playing the role of Watson on the Tide’s scout team offense within 24 hours of arriving on campus.
The first-team All-SEC selection shared the story of his first Alabama practice when he met with the media on Saturday at Amalie Arena for College Football Playoff Media Day.
“I think we left and drove from Texas about 5 (a.m.) or so, and at 5 in the evening we got there, and the next day, that’s when I practiced,” said Hurts, who is from Channelview, Texas, just outside of Houston.
It’s typical for coaches to find players that closely resemble the opposing quarterback to play scout team and prepare the defense, and it was no different in this instance.
Hurts, however, felt he could prepare the defense better by simply playing at his best rather than going out of his way to resemble Watson.
“We had talked about doing exactly what (Watson) does, watching his film, doing what he does, knowing his characteristics, I really didn’t do that,” Hurts said with a subtle smile. “I came in and played my game, and I guess we made similar plays, and that’s what Coach (Nick Saban) thought.
“I just came in here and did what I thought I could do.”
Hurts did so well, that what started as a non-contact scrimmage grew somewhat physical.
“I came in and you’ve got A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed and those guys, so when I came in they were like, ‘Who is this guy?’” Hurts said. “I started breaking them off (runs) and throwing nice passes, and they are like he’s running around here and doing all this stuff.
“The mentality they had, A’Shawn and Jarran, they were like, ‘We’ve got to end this,’ so they started hitting me,” Hurts said. “But I got right back up and made them want to hit me some more.
“It was all fine. There were some funny moments we can look back on it, but I was fine with it all.”
Besides, Hurts said, “sometimes on the defensive side, everything is live.”
As long as Saban, the legendary defensive coach, is in charge, that doesn’t figure to change.
WATCH: Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian discusses Jalen Hurts and his first game calling plays for the Tide:
Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian
Posted by SEC Country on Saturday, January 7, 2017