We all knew Tua Tagovailoa headed into the 2019 college football season as one of the country's best quarterbacks. And that, in all likelihood, would translate into a first-round grade once the NFL Draft rolls around in the spring. But few people expected Jalen Hurts to enter the conversation so quickly. And maybe that changes but for now, it's hard to overlook just how good Hurts was in his debut for the Sooners.
We also look at the Week 1 performances of Justin Herbert, who a year ago was considered a first-round lock (Herbert chose to return to school); Shea Patterson, Jake Fromm and two of those most intriging quarterbacks in this class: Jordan Love and Jacob Eason.
OK, let's get to it.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Tagovailoa's performance against Duke was as close to clinical as you're going to see. The junior finished 26 of 31 for 336 yards with 4 touchdowns and no turnovers and unlike the end of last season, Tua is finally healthy. He also showed off all the attributes that makes him the No. 1 quarterback. It starts with his accuracy, where he's lethal at every level. We saw that short and intermediate accuracy on two of his touchdowns -- to DeVonta Smith in the third quarter and Miller Forristall before halftime.
Almost as important as the accuracy in those touchdown tosses? Tua's movement in the pocket, his ability to square his shoulders and his uncanny knack to put the ball in the best position to allow his receiver to run after the catch. Of course, throwing to the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and Smith certainly makes things easier but that relationship is a two-way street. It wasn't a perfect effort for Tua but it was close; he missed a few downfield throws that you would expect him to make virtually every time because he didn't set his feet in the pocket. But again, he had just five incompletions all afternoon. And while this Duke defense doesn't scare anyone, Tua showed no rust after spending part of the offseason getting healthy.
Next up: At home this Saturday against New Mexico State.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
While playing behind Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama last season, Hurts only attempted 70 passes. But the highlight came in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia when he replaced an injured Tua and finished 7 of 9 for 82 yards and a touchdown, and added another 28 yards on the ground, and another score. When he transferred to Oklahoma we all wondered just how good he would be in Lincoln Riley's offense and the answer after one game is "better than anyone imagined." We'll see if that holds but in three quarters of work against Houston Hurts was phenomenal. He went 20 of 23 (87 percent!) for 332 yards, 3 touchdown, 0 interceptions and 0 sacks. He threw a touchdown in each quarter and each pass was longer than the one that preceded it (16, 45 and 56 yards). Oh, and Hurts also ran for 176 yards on 16 carries (11.0 YPC!) and 3 more scores. Because why not.