Jalen Hurts proves to be Alabama's X-factor but development as a passer remains key

BATON ROUGE, La. — Alabama‘s defensive dominance carries an air of inevitably over this college football season. Do we already know who the national champion will be?

Alabama 10, LSU 0 suggests yes based on defense. But Alabama 10, LSU 0 still raises a question mark at quarterback. Nick Saban knows this about Jalen Hurts and sounds like an anxious parent trying to move his prodigy child along without screwing him up in the process.

“We made some errors early in the game that were costly and we made some plays in the end that his athleticism allowed him to make,” Saban said Saturday night. “I think that as we grow with him, we’re going to have to live with both. I like the second part better than the first.”

Alabama is headed on a collision course for another CFP championship. The defense is ridiculously fast and scary good. LSU star running back Leonard Fournette was held to 35 yards on 17 carries, meaning he finishes his career against Alabama with a 2.5-yard per carry average.

After a week of talk out of LSU about this year being different, it was more of the same. Fournette had nowhere to run. “We have some pretty hateful guys that play defense around here that are pretty good competitors, and when they get challenged, they usually respond,” Saban said.

Let’s be honest: There are very few teams that can beat Alabama. Most of those teams require them having a great day and Alabama being slightly off.

Clemson might be the only team that can compete with Alabama straight up. Clemson has the defensive linemen. Clemson has the confidence from competing with Alabama in the past CFP title game. And most importantly, Clemson has the quarterback in Deshaun Watson, assuming his shoulder injury sustained Saturday isn’t serious.

That’s where the development of Hurts, a true freshman with remarkable poise, factors into the rest of this season for Alabama. The moment isn’t too big for him.

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