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Nick Saban not ready to make Tua Tagovailoa Alabama’s No. 1 quarterback

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Alabama quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa, left, and Jalen Hurts ran drills during an NCAA college football practice in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Aug. 4. Alabama entered game week with no answer, publicly at least, to the question of who will start at quarterback against Louisville.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. >> Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t ready to answer the starting quarterback question, and frankly, he and his players are tired of hearing it.

For the record, Saban didn’t say today whether it will be Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa starting for the defending national champions in the season opener Saturday night against Louisville in Orlando, Florida.

His players had no fresh insights on the topic either.

“I’ve answered this question 100 times, maybe 200 times,” tailback Damien Harris said. “My answer hasn’t changed. The team feels the same way from the first time we ever got asked about it.

“I think at this point any other question about the quarterback situation needs to be directed toward coach Saban.”

As for Saban, he praised how both Hurts and Tagovailoa have performed in practice and handled the monthslong competition. He wouldn’t say if it was safe to assume the decision wouldn’t be made public until Saturday night.

“I don’t think you should assume anything,” Saban said. “If I’m ready to tell you, I’ll tell you. If I’m not, I won’t. So you can assume that. Is that fair?”

He was asked if both would see action in the first game, something he’s done in recent seasons with Hurts and Blake Barnett, and AJ McCarron and Philip Sims.

“Look, none of that’s been decided yet,” Saban said. “I wish we could talk about something else because I don’t really have anything else to say about it.”

It has been a hot topic among fans and media since the wee hours of Jan. 9, after all.

Tagovailoa and Hurts, a two-year starter, have been competing ever since the heroics of the freshman from Hawaii in the national championship game.

Alabama has won 26 of the 28 games Hurts has started. He complained early in fall camp about how coaches had handled his situation, saying they never asked how he felt.

But Saban later said that drew more attention outside the program and didn’t affect the team .

Tagovailoa helped bail the Tide out of a 13-point hole in the title game against Georgia , heaving the game-winning touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. Hurts passed for only 21 yards in the first half.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is left to prepare for both quarterbacks.

“Yeah, and one of them has only played a half and cranked the ball deep and really did a great job of throwing the football,” Petrino said. “We’ve been having to prepare for both of them. They both can run, and they’re both big, 225-pound guys that can run with big hips that are hard to tackle.

“The thing we have to do is get in the position to make the tackle when they do run.”

There’s no escaping the question for Tide players. Even when they leave the state.

“Even when I went back home in May, people back home in Iowa would ask that,” center Ross Pierschbacher said. “I thought I escaped Alabama for a little while. Family members ask, too. That seems to be the topic everyone wants to talk about obviously. I don’t really know what to say.

“I don’t have much on it, honestly.”

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