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Starting Quarterback Odds: Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa? Kelly Bryant or Trevor Lawrence?

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in College Football

Aug 15, 2018 · 9:00 AM PDT

Jalen Hurts at a press conference while still with Alabama
Jalen Hurts is a -1500 favorite to start for Oklahoma in Week 1 of the 2019 season against Houston. Photo by Thomson200 (Wikimedia)
  • Alabama’s quarterback controversy is reaching a fever pitch just 17 days before the first game of the season
  • Both Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa have a lot to offer, but only one can start
  • Will Trevor Lawrence take Kelly Bryant’s job?

College football quarterback controversies are perennial offseason storyline generators. With Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa locked in a dramatic race to “win the team,” and a true freshman putting pressure on Kelly Bryant, this offseason is no different. This time, however, oddsmakers will let you bet on the outcome.

Alabama Starting Quarterback Odds

Player Odds
Tua Tagovailoa -250
Jalen Hurts +180

I don’t think the quarterback race is this lopsided, and certainly not in this direction. Tua Tagovailoa did great things in the last half of the national championship game and will probably one day have a statue built of him.

However, Jalen Hurts still makes a lot of sense as the Alabama starting quarterback. Hurts has the advantage on bread and butter concepts like inside zone, while Tagovailoa has more value in the passing game. Traditionally, Alabama quarterbacks have not focused on the passing game, and the team prizes things like ball security and consistency over the offensive spark Tagovailoa obviously brings.

That said: Jalen Hurts stirred up some media controversy when he let his frustration be heard in fall camp.

That started a whole brouhaha that Nick Saban lightly intoned would not help Hurts “win the team.” That’s a huge point in favor of Tua’s chances. Also in favor of Tua are reports that he’s doing better in fall camp, although there’s no real way to know that.

The sportsbooks/betting public are pretty sure that Tua will get the start, as most list Tua as a Heisman favorite and Hurts as a longshot at best. However, anyone who tells you that they know who will be starting quarterback for Alabama come Week 1 is lying to you. It’s a tight race, occurring inside a notoriously opaque program.  The final decision will probably come down to football things that very few are capable of understanding.

Clemson Starting Quarterback Odds

Player Odds
Kelly Bryant +105
Trevor Lawrence +175
Hunter Johnson +520
Chase Brice +800

Kelly Bryant completed 262 passes for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns. He led Clemson to an 11-1 record, the ACC Championship, and a loss in the Playoff to Alabama. And now he’s on the hot seat.

Trevor Lawrence has never taken a snap for Clemson, but emerged from Cartersville High School as the most highly touted Georgia quarterback since Deshaun Watson. He’s listed as 6’5″ and 200 lbs, ran rings around the summer camp circuit, and is just about exactly what coaches look for in a quarterback. He also did okay in the Spring game:

Kelly Bryant is the safer pick, and while he didn’t live up to Deshaun Watson’s reputation, he did a fairly decent impression of him. In the first game against Furman, it’s likely that Lawrence will get some playing time, but look for Bryant to be starting the game.

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