The rest of the country might have been surprised when Alabama turned to its second-string quarterback in the second half of the College Football Playoff national championship, but Georgia coach Kirby Smart wasn’t.
Going into the locker room with a 13-0 lead after two quarters, Smart and his assistants talked about the possibility that starter Jalen Hurts might be benched in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa.
> Photos: Georgia’s dreams turn to dejection
“We told everybody at halftime there was no question they were going to him because they were struggling and they needed some momentum,” Smart said.
Tagovailoa had played just enough over the course of the season, completing 35 of 53 passes for 470 yards in spot duty, that he wasn’t entirely a mystery.
“He played enough snaps,” Smart said. “We’d seen him on tape.”
And one more thing, after Tagovailoa went 14 of 24 for 166 yards and three touchdowns, including the 41-yard winner in overtime: “He’s a good player.”
The Tide rallied and defeated Georgia, 26-23, in overtime.
“In overtime we didn’t finish when we had to and Alabama did,” Smart said. “Give them credit, but I think everybody can see that Georgia’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.