Nick Saban not surprised by Jalen Hurts’ dominant opener at Oklahoma: ‘We’re really happy for him’

Alabama coach Nick Saban wasn’t shocked to hear about Jalen Hurts’ incredible performance for No. 4 Oklahoma on Sunday night.

Not in the slightest.

Hurts — who compiled a 26-2 record as the starting quarterback at Alabama before transferring to Oklahoma — threw six touchdowns and compiled 508 yards of offense in the Sooners’ season-opening 49-31 win against Houston.

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“I didn’t see the game last night — we work on Sunday nights — but I hear he played extremely well and did an outstanding job, and that doesn’t surprise me in the least bit,” Saban said. “We’re really happy for him, not only in the way he handled himself throughout this entire process, but now that he’s having success as well.”

Hurts, after losing the starting job for the Crimson Tide to Tua Tagovailoa, joined Oklahoma as a graduate transfer earlier this year. Already, he appears to be thriving under coach Lincoln Riley’s offense.

He went 20-of-23 for 332 yards and threw three touchdowns on Sunday night, and then picked up 176 yards and three more touchdowns on the ground, too. Unquestionably, Hurts is already a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season — which would be the third straight at Oklahoma, following Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.

Though things didn’t go the way Hurts would have hoped during his time at Alabama, Saban had nothing but praise for his former quarterback and how he’s continued to work on his game.

His performance in the SEC championship game — Hurts replaced an injured Tagovailoa in the second half and led the Crimson Tide to a comeback win against Georgia — last fall was a prime example of his incredible work ethic, as was Sunday night in Norman, Oklahoma.

“I think that Jalen set a great example when he was here,” Saban said. “When he was a player, he was a good leader. He was a good performer. And I also think when things didn’t go his way, he showed a lot of character as a person to continue to try to improve himself and do everything he could to help his team. In this day and age you don’t often see that.

“But I think it was a really, really great example on his part and because he did it that way when he got an opportunity, he was able to do extremely well, and actually won the SEC championship game for us.”

Plenty of Alabama players felt the same way, too.

“I’m happy for him,” Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy said, via the Montgomery Advertiser. “He did a great job both passing and running. Six touchdowns, that’s unbelievable.

“But that’s what Jalen do, so I’m very happy for him.”

Related: Who's most likely to win the Heisman this year?: 

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2019 Heisman Trophy winner odds
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2019 Heisman Trophy winner odds

T-12. Travis Etienne, Clemson RB: 45/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

T-12. Rondale Moore, Purdue WR: 45/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

T-12. J.K Dobbins, Ohio State RB: 45/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

T-12. A.J. Dillon, Boston College RB: 45/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

11. D'Andre Swift, Georgia RB: 30/1 odds

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(AP Photo/John Raoux)

10. Justin Herbert, Oregon QB: 30/1 odds

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T-8. Sam Ehlinger, Texas QB: 20/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

T-8. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB: 20/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

7. Sam Patterson, Michigan QB: 17/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

T-3. Justin Fields, Ohio State QB: 10/1 odds

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(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

T-3. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma QB: 10/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

T-3. Jake Fromm, Georgia QB: 10/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

T-3. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska QB: 10/1 odds

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(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

2. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson QB: 11/4 odds

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(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama QB: 5/2 odds

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(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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