Tua Tagovailoa NFL Draft scouting report: Analyzing the South Carolina tape to see what went well and what needs work
Tagovailoa had a gigantic afternoon against South Carolina but really wasn't asked to do much
Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense went bananas against South Carolina on Saturday.
The junior quarterback averaged an otherworldly 12.3 yards per attempt on his 36 passes and threw five touchdowns without a pick in the 47-23 win on the road.
But just how good was Tagovailoa individually in this one?
Let's go inside his effort -- something we'll do every week here at CBS Sports -- and provide some of the finer details of a performance that wasn't as spectacular as they numbers indicate.
What he did well
At first glance, this looks like a simple dump off to running back Brian Robinson. Upon further review, it was a fine demonstration of Tagovailoa's processing ability from inside the pocket.
He starts by looking to his left and then down the middle of the field. Didn't like what he saw in either place. Then, as an edge rusher from his blind side forced him up and to his right, the correct decision was to look for his check down to that side of the field.
That's exactly what Tagovailoa did, and the throw was made in stride.
This next play was the finest illustration of high-level quarterbacking from Tagovailoa in this game. It came in the fourth quarter on a seemingly simple crossing route to lightning bolt Henry Ruggs.
Tagovailoa showcased excellent patience not typically exhibited by collegiate quarterbacks on this play. He was forced to hold the football after he got to the top of his drop. After that, he didn't panic nor did he run from the pocket. He waited for Ruggs to come open, reset his feet, and fired an accurate pass over the middle.
Most collegiate quarterbacks -- even the better ones -- would've reacted in a more rushed manner than Tagovailoa did, which, on that play, would've led to Ruggs ultimately being missed over the middle.
Where he must improve
Near the end of the first quarter, Tagovailoa put a really strange throw on film. After a play-action fake and half roll to the left, he peeked down the middle of the field toward Jeudy.
There were two defenders approaching unimpeded, which may have rushed Tagovailoa's throw, but it fell woefully short and seemingly behind the star receiver as he blazed down the seam.
While the miss itself isn't super concerning because of the sped-up nature of the play, Tagovailoa's lack of arm strength while not being perfectly set is, as it was an element of his game I was worried about heading into the season. Tagovailoa isn't severely held back by his arm but does have moments in which he simply can't drive the ball. This was one of them.
This article was purposely shorter than usual. It's just that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian isn't asking Tagovailoa to do much right now. You see 77.8% completion with 444 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions, and it'd be easy to guess Tagovailoa was surgical against South Carolina.
While he wasn't bad, the Crimson Tide offense mostly consisted of swing passes, bubble screens, throwback wheel routes to wide open backs, and slants. The vast majority of Tagovailoa's throws in the victory over the Gamecocks were ... easy. The amount of talent he has at receiver is unprecedented. Seriously. It wouldn't shock me if Jeudy, Ruggs, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle (in 2021) are all Top 50 selections.
As Alabama really gets into this SEC schedule, we should see more individual responsibility put on Tagovailoa, but this dazzling statistical performance was mainly thanks to his outrageous collection of dynamic wideouts.
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