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Tagovailoa’s Season for the Ages

By BJ Bennett
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Simply put, college football hasn't seen many players quite like Tua Tagovailoa

At a place where many of the best quarterbacks ever helped set a remarkable standard, Tagovailoa is furthering the status quo.

Here is where we are with Tua Tagovailoa; watching, potentially, the greatest single season by a quarterback in college football history.

With every week, Alabama's offense continues to be unstoppable and Tagovailoa continues to be near-perfect. Against Tennessee, the Crimson Tide scored 58 points, Tagovailoa had another 300-yard, four touchdown game and the new measure of excellence continued to be set. He is producing unlike any signal caller before. Tagovailoa's current passer rating of 238.8 is an unfathomable increase over Baker Mayfield's recent record of 198.9. Only Tagovailoa himself is stopping his production, putting games out of reach so early that he is playing his way out of games.

Eight games into the season, Tagovailoa is 107-for-152 for 2,066 yards, with 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He ranks first in the nation in passing yards per attempt at 13.6, another number that would set a new single-season national record, third in scores, ninth in completion percentage at 70.4, 12th in total yards and is obviously first in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Tagovailoa, through eight games, has the most scores without a pick of any quarterback this millennium, a number up to 25 and counting.

Statistically-speaking, the worst single game for Tagovailoa this fall is his recent contest at Tennessee, boasting just a 199.68 passer rating; that margin, Tagovailoa's lowest, would still be higher than Mayfield's aforementioned standing record.

The consistency has been stunning. Tagovailoa, despite not playing in a single fourth quarter, has multiple touchdown passes in every game and has averaged over ten yards per throw in each outing. While avoiding the volatility that consumes most, Tagovailoa has still been at his best when it matters most. He is completing 79% of his passes on 3rd-and-10+ and is averaging 14.5 yards per attempt in road and neutral site games. Tagovailoa, at ranked Texas  A&M, threw for a career-high 387 yards and scored a career-high five times.  

Tagovailoa's impact on the Alabama offense tops the charts.

The Crimson Tide lead the nation with both 564.3 yards and 54.1 points per game. Army holds the all-time record for points per game in a single season with 56 in 1944. Alabama, for the first time in program history, has compiled at least 500 total yards in eight consecutive games. Tagovailoa's Crimson Tide rank number one in the country in third down conversions at 56.2%. Additionally, they have the most plays of ten-plus yards and 20-plus yards in college football. Receiver Jerry Jeudy paces Power Five football with ten touchdown receptions. 

Merely 25 of Tagovailoa's throws have come after halftime. What he and Alabama have accomplished in the first half of games, alone, is overwhelming. The Crimson Tide are averaging and 370.3 yards and 38.7 points before the break, the latter, if it was a full-game margin, still good enough to slot in the national top 20. Alabama is fresh off 28 points in the first quarter against Tennessee, the third time this offense has scored four times in period one, the nation's longest streak since 2013. Tagovailoa has led the Crimson Tide to an opening touchdown in every game this year.

Already, Tagovailoa is making his mark in the media guide. He just tied Gary Hollingsworth, Jay Barker and A.J. McCarron with a program-best third 300-yard passing game this year. Tagovailoa, in October, mind you, has 25 passing touchdowns, just five shy of McCarron's single-season record. Tagovailoa, with 22 first-half scores, may ultimately top that mark with just his first and second quarter production. With 905 yards in his last three games, Tagovailoa is also on pace to top Blake Sims' one-year yardage record.

At a place where many of the best quarterbacks ever helped set a remarkable standard, Tagovailoa is furthering the status quo. 

Compared to recent Heisman Trophy winners, an honor Tagovailoa is clearly the front-runner for, his efficiency numbers also compare very favorably at this point. Below are Tagovailoa's passing statistics compared to the award winners (Nebraska option QB Eric Crouch not included) since 2000.

Tagovailoa: 107-for-152 (70.4%), 2,066 yards (13.6 ypa), 25 TD, 0 INT
Baker Mayfield: 171 of 236 (72.5%), 2,628 yards (11.1 ypa), 23 TD, 3 INT
Lamar Jackson: 158 of 271 (58.3%) for 2,522 yards (9.3 ypa), 22 TD, 5 INT
Marcus Mariota: 150 of 218 (68.8%) for 2,283 yards (10.5 ypa), 24 TD, 1 INT
Jameis Winston: 149 of 212 (70.3%) for 2,502 yards (11.8 ypa), 24 TD, 6 INT
Johnny Manziel: 173 of 269 (64.3%) for 2,216 yards (8.2 ypa), 16 TD, 6 INT
Robert Griffin III: 202 of 273 (74%) for 2,781 yards (10.2 ypa), 26 TD, 4 INT
Cam Newton: 90 of 138 (65.2%) for 1,361 yards (9.9 ypa), 13 TD, 5 INT
Sam Bradford: 183 of 270 (67.8%) for 2,775 yards (10.3 ypa), 29 TD, 5 INT
Tim Tebow: 129 of 196 (65.8%) for 1,947 yards (9.9 ypa), 18 TD, 3 INT
Troy Smith: 131 of 193 (67.9%) for 1,715 yards (8.9 ypa), 21 TD, 2 INT
Matt Leinart: 159 of 243 (65.4%) for 1,863 yards (7.7 ypa), 18 TD, 4 INT
Jason White: 168 of 249 (67.5%) for 2,288 yards (9.2 ypa), 25 TD, 4 INT
Carson Palmer: 195 of 314 (62.1%) for 2,429 yards (7.7 ypa), 18 TD, 8 INT
Chris Weinke: 180 of 287 (62.7%) for 2,784 yards (9.7 ypa), 22 TD, 7 INT

Of the above heralded group, Tagovailoa, in addition to having a passer rating on pace to set a new all-time high, has the best touchdown-to-interception ratio, the top yard-per-attempt average, the third-best completion percentage and is tied for the third-most touchdown passes. Only five of those 14 all-time greats led their teams to 8-0 starts as Tagovailoa currently has with Alabama.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Tagovailoa's success is that, in just a little over half-a-season, his unparalleled proficiency has already made last season's national championship game heroics a secondary narrative. Tagovailoa has one of the greatest throws in college football history on his resume, a play that was made less than nine full months ago; because he has accomplished so much, so quickly, with new storylines developing each and every week, the magic from that moment is now trying to keep up.

Tagovailoa currently has more national titles for his career than he has interceptions on the year. Alabama has scored more points in six different games this season than Tagovailoa has total incompletions. He, for point of reference, averaged 25.7 yards per pass in the Crimson Tide's win at Arkansas; the Razorbacks, as a team, are averaging 25.8 points per game. Overall, the Tagovailoa-led Alabama offense has scored more touchdowns than Auburn and LSU combined.

Simply put, college football hasn't seen many players quite like Tagovailoa. He is a rare talent, so much so that Nick Saban turned to the now-superstar cold off the bench in the biggest game of the year. That, somehow, was only the beginning. With everything on the line, Tagovailoa changed history with the mere flick of his wrist. Remarkably, we are still seeing more of the same.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports