Read the full transcript from Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's press conference on October 18, 2023.
(What was it like having him – I know you're not on the same side of the field – but what was it like having CB Jalen Ramsey back out there?) – "It was cool. Just his presence alone, his leadership out there. Got to go against him a little bit as he was on the other side while the offense was up. He did jump in on some reps. Just a great teammate giving us some good looks, but for what he had, it's pretty remarkable – the competitor that he is. He's put in the time, a lot of time, into trying to get back as soon as possible and like I said, it's truly remarkable."
(I know the past couple weeks we've talked with you a lot about your control and mastery and really taking autonomy of the offense in a sense, calling your own plays, calling your own shots. I was curious can you kind of take us a little bit behind the scenes of like the week of preparation? I think you get the game plan on Tuesday and what's the communication like with Head Coach Mike McDaniel and really letting him know what you like and what you feel comfortable with?) – "Yeah, I think a lot of it has to do with feeling comfortable for one and then knowing the guys that are running certain routes for two. Do we like this guy running this route versus press? Do we like this guy off? Do want to motion him? Do we want to do things like that? And a lot of the times it's more so Mike (McDaniel) is on that already. Just some of them, like I would just say, 'hey, would you want to do this or would you want to do that?' And he'd either be like, 'yeah' or 'no, just trust me on this one.' So there's a lot of communication in that sense and then just throughout the week communicating with the guys, what we're looking for in this defense, sort of the spots in which the routes happen, where we're trying to hit. Things like that, that's all we talk about."
(Are there throws that you can make now that maybe rookie year coming off the hip – and certainly you've gotten stronger, too – are there throws that you're making now that you haven't been able to make before?) – "I would say a lot of the routes that we have this year, I've never had – my rookie year or my second year. And then just playing like within the timing of each play, it's all different. The maturity of who I was then to who I am now as a football player has changed a lot, too, so I would probably say no. But then at the same time, I wouldn't know."
(I wanted to ask you about, you've always said that you throw to spots as opposed to receivers and that's just something that you've always done. Does that help you when you're looking off guys?) – "Yeah, it does help me when I'm looking off guys. In practice, sometimes it's not just looking off guys, it's just looking here knowing that this guy is going to be over here so then I'm looking over there and I throw it over there or looking over here to move this guy and I throw it over there in the next window. But a lot of times with looking people off, it's more so knowing the spots on field where guys should be and that's what allows us to play the way we play, I think, is talking through those and guys being in the right spots at the right time and then knowing when to hold safeties and when you've just got to work through your progression when it's not useful at that time."
(Some people look at Sunday's game as a potential Super Bowl preview. How do you view it and with a week like this, do you stay in touch with Eagles QB Jalen Hurts or do you guys prefer to stay out of each other's way?) – "Yeah, I think in competition mode, it's one of those things where I know where he's at with his play, he knows where I'm at with my play. We'll probably see each other before the game to wish each other luck, but at the end of the day, we're both trying to help our teams win. And I know that he's doing all that he can to help his offense be successful against our defense and I'm doing the exact same, trying to work hard to do the exact same to their defense. I got a lot of respect for Jalen. He's been a great competitor since I got there to Alabama. He's been a special player since I've been there, and he's been a special player throughout his entire college career. So I know it'll be a good game and I don't think of it as a Super Bowl preview or anything like that. I just think that this is another team that we're preparing for and in order for us to get to where we want to go to, we've got to play this game."
(What do you think of the way your two careers have taken off in the NFL after competing together at Alabama?) – "Yeah, I mean, there's different ways to skin the cat, right? Many different ways. He went down a different road than I did to get to where I'm at. And he had to go down a different road to get to where he's at. But like I said, I got a lot of respect for him – who he is as a person who he is as a player and wish him the best of luck as we play him."
(When you put the Eagles defense on tape what are a couple things that stand out to you?) – "I mean, their front seven. The front seven is tough. A really good front seven. And then with their back end a little banged up, when they do have all their guys, they're a really, really good team. A lot of a lot of communication on that back end and they play really good and really sound defense."
(Does that feel like an SEC defense to you?) – "Every NFL team feels like an SEC defense. (laughter) They all feel like an SEC defense. But yeah, I would assume it's more of an SEC defense. They've got a lot more SEC players on their team, I would say."
(Throwing it way back to 2017, what do you remember about that postseason run up to the national title game, the Sugar Bowl and the championship game?) – "Man, I don't remember much. I don't remember much of it. I just remember being able to come into the national championship game and play. And I just had an opportunity to go out there and help our team win. But really, that's all that I can remember, the Georgia Bulldogs that we got to play against and beat. But other than that, that's all I remember."
(You guys don't obviously need any extra motivation clearly, but I'm curious when you see CB Jalen Ramsey – most people would be out until December or whatever. Just the commitment he had to get back and then actually do it and what he adds off the field as far as just his positivity and all that type of stuff?) – "Yeah, Jalen Ramsey's leadership. Who he is, just him being out there, his persona. Guys respect him for the things that he's done in the league already and then also you've got to respect the way he works day-in and day-out, as we've started the season, as we've went through training camp. Just seeing him working by himself doing things that allow him to get back on the field as soon as possible. That's how that's how guys have portrayed it. He's earned a lot of respect from the guys in the locker room."
(I know the idea of a statement game is probably more on our end than it is on yours. These sort of matchups get a lot of attention. Do you guys need this kind of test internally though as a litmus test to kind of see where you are and all that?) – "I think it's always good when you're facing a team that went to the Super Bowl, where they were just that short winning it. It's always a test to go up against a team like this where they understand what it takes, they know the work that needs to be put in to make it there. And it definitely is a good opportunity to see where our team stands and where we're at with that. So yeah, I would say yeah."
(They've had a lot of success with the quarterback sneaks. From your vantage point I guess looking at those plays, is it something that Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is doing specifically or maybe the o-line? How do you think that's become as successful as it has for them?) – "Honestly, I have no idea. That is crazy what they do. You've got to give props where props are due and that is remarkable how successful they are in doing that. But in a way, it's also no surprise with Jalen (Hurts) being in the back there with how strong he is. I've been his lifting partner when I got there to Alabama and oh my goodness. Let me tell you, he could probably squat with our linemen or maybe just a little more. This guy can squat. He's strong. So it doesn't surprise me with the quarterback sneaks and that's not to diss any of our linemen. That's just to say I've seen this dude put up a lot of weight and he has lifted with some of our linemen at Alabama, so he's strong."
(What was it like, and this has nothing to do with the NFL, but just curiosity, what was it like for you when you get to Alabama coming from Hawaii, and you get to Alabama and you start to see maybe for the first time guys who are like, 'wow, this guy is going to the league' or 'wow, this is a different caliber of athlete?') – "Yeah, I think when I got there, it was like, 'okay, I don't want to mess up what we have here, so I'm going to try to find where I fit.' But then it's also one of those things where if you aren't strong mentally, you either had to be, like find out you had to be, or figure it out. Or you wouldn't have made it there. There was just an aura around there that was just like, you didn't really speak of what the standard was, but when you got there, you knew what that was and you knew you couldn't do anything to bring that down and the guys wouldn't allow you to do that. When I got there, I thought I'd seen some big people in my life. These guys, they all look like they're on steroids when I got there, But they weren't. It's crazy, oh my gosh. (laughter) But they weren't. We weren't. (laughter)"