What a great national championship game last night. Here are a few comments from Alabama freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after his dramatic second half play in the win over Georgia.
Q. This is for Tua. Tua, you’ve played in games before, but most of the time it’s been when the games were already in hand. What was that like to come in with Alabama trailing? And at what point did you feel like I’ve got this?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: We practice throughout the year. We go in with the ones sometimes. Us freshmen, we go in with the ones sometimes. We trade reps with the ones. We go in with the twos. And I think preparation leading up to this point has been the key thing with our offensive coaches helping us throughout the process. And just building the trust within each other, from the O-line to the receivers creating a bond with each other. I think that’s helped us build confidence coming into this game to where, if you’ve got to go in, if your number’s called, then you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to give the team the best placement — or how should I say this? To give the team the best opportunity to win the game.
Q. This question is for Tua again. Hawaii to Alabama is a long way distance-wise, culturally. What’s that experience been like for you this first year? Have you ever been homesick at any point? Just kind of sum it up.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I do get homesick at times. I miss my family back home. My parents are here. I’m talking about my dad’s siblings. I don’t know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama. Thank God he found me and we’re here right now.
I don’t know, the biggest difference from Hawaii and Alabama would probably be there’s no beaches, but other than that, the people are very nice. The people are very religious. There’s football too. So how much better could it get?
Q. Where does your poise come from to allow you to come into a situation like this tonight and perform the way you did?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I would say my poise comes from my faith, just being able to come onto the sideline every time after I go into a drive. I just pray for peace. I just pray, asking God, let your will be done in me, and the rest will follow. That’s the best way I could explain it. Before I go into a drive, I pray a little bit, say my prayers, and we do it. When we come off the field, say a little prayer just to keep me calm, and we go from there.
Q. Tua, a couple years ago, Marcus Mariotta became the superstar of college football and really put Hawaii on the map in terms of skill players. I know you were hailed as the next Marcus. Did you hear from him today? And I see you up there with your Hawaii lei? What does it mean for your state and for Polynesian people?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: This is very big for our state. For kids back home, making our state proud is the biggest thing, and to be able to do this on a national level, on a big stage is just a great opportunity. It’s just great exposure for us as well, you know, our people. I mean, I just thank God that I’m here.
Q. Did you hear from Marcus at all?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I heard nothing from Marcus before this. I don’t want to check my phone right now. I just want to see my family and just enjoy this win with my team.