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College football: Tagovailoa having positive effect on Saban

Updated: 
October 26, 2017 - 12:05am

HONOLULU — No. 1 Alabama had an opportunity to secure its second shutout of the season last Saturday against Tennessee.

The Crimson Tide held a 28-0 lead over the Volunteers when freshman Tua Tagovailoa (Saint Louis ‘17) took over for Jalen Hurts at quarterback on the Crimson Tide’s second drive of the second half.

Tagovailoa completed his first four passes and drove Alabama 73 yards to the Tennessee 5-yard line, then threw an interception that was returned 97 yards for a touchdown.

After the game, head coach Nick Saban said Tagovailoa apologized after the play.

“You probably don’t know Tua very well, but he apologizes and says thank you and apologizes for everything,” Saban told reporters at his postgame press conference. “If you ask Tua how he’s doing, he’ll say, ‘Thanks for asking,’ so sometimes I say that to him now.

“He says, ‘How’s it going, coach?’ and I said, ‘Good, man, thanks for asking.’ So he’s made me more polite.”

Tagovailoa bounced back from the pick to finish 9-for-13 for 134 yards with a 60-yard TD pass and added a 23-yard touchdown run in a 45-7 victory.

Tagovailoa has played in all but one game this season and thrown just the one interception with five touchdowns. He’s completing 66.7 percent (28-for-42) of his passes for 385 yards and has also rushed for 95 yards and two scores.

“I think the most important thing is he went back into the game and he played well and he made plays,” Saban said. “Even though he felt bad about what he did it didn’t affect his confidence and I don’t think it affected the players’ confidence in him.”

Pearl City grad to get first start at QB

Ole Miss junior Jordan Ta’amu will start his first game at quarterback for the Rebels this week after Shea Patterson tore a ligament in his knee on Saturday in a 40-24 loss to LSU.

Ta’amu, No. 2 on the depth chart all year, finished 7-for-11 for 78 yards against the Tigers after Patterson suffered the season-ending injury.

The 2015 Pearl City alumnus, playing against SEC competition for the first time, helped the team to a field goal in the final minutes of the first half and led a 66-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.

“I was pleased with his timing,” Rebels coach Matt Luke said during his Monday press conference. “He pulled the ball down and got positive yards, and I think that’s one of his strengths. He can really run, and he’s a very good athlete.”

Ta’amu spent two seasons at New Mexico Military Institute and was ranked the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback recruit in junior college by ESPN. He was the 2016 Southwest Conference player of the year after throwing for 3,014 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 328 yards and seven scores.

The Rebels (3-4, 1-3 SEC) host Arkansas on Saturday.

Milton, Knights up to 18th in AP poll

Central Florida is 6-0 for the first time in school history and moved up to No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25 this week.

Sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton (Mililani ‘16) helped the Knights snap Navy’s 17-game home winning streak in the regular season with a 31-21 victory Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

Milton finished 15-for-23 for 233 yards and a touchdown and also ran 11 times for 47 yards.

The true sophomore has the Knights leading the nation in scoring offense at 47.3 points per game.

UCF hosts Austin Peay on Saturday at 11 a.m. Hawaii time.

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