Jalen Hurts won SEC offensive player of the year as a true freshman, but one coach doesn’t think the Alabama quarterback is anywhere close to reaching his potential.
USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach interviewed three SEC defensive coordinators about what made Hurts so successful this year. All of them were impressed by the freshman’s talent and play-making ability. But Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith went a bit further.
“He’s just starting to scratch the surface of how good of a player he could be,” Smith said.
That’s a scary proposition for SEC defenses. Hurts was arguably the conference’s best quarterback already in 2016. He had 3,433 total yards and 34 total touchdowns in his opening campaign.
Some of that production came thanks to the environment around him. Todd Blackledge said Tuesday the freshman benefits a lot from Lane Kiffin’s scheme as well as Alabama’s defense.
But Smith thinks Hurts is already able to do so much on his own. When defenses blitz and try to take away the run, Smith said Hurts can already make the throws against one-on-one coverage to beat that strategy too.
“He can make those throws,” Smith said. “He’s proven he can make those throws, and he can do the same if they’re playing from behind. He can scramble, and make the throws.”
All the coaches Auerbach interviewed gave some credit to Alabama’s offensive scheme, which used Hurts as a runner and adopted more spread principles this season. But they also marveled at Hurts’ decision-making and his poise under pressure in just his first college season.
Imagine what he’ll be able to do as a sophomore. Because if Smith is right, this is just the beginning.