Arizona State quarterback Blake Barnett blames a negative reputation for being nervous as the reason he lost the starting job at Alabama. In reality he simply got outplayed by Jalen Hurts.
Getting nervous is one thing in life that happens to everyone, regardless of how many times an individual may profess he or she owns nerves of steel. Job interview, doctor visit, wedding day, big game. Every now and then, the stomach will get butterflies and the palms a little sweaty. It is human nature.
So it is totally reasonable that Blake Barnett would have a few jitters heading into his first collegiate start for Alabama in front of a packed AT&T Stadium against a powerhouse program in USC. Barnett played well, completed five of six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.
The problem? Freshman Jalen Hurts, who would go on to win the starting job, be named First Team All-SEC, and make Barnett an afterthought in the annals of Crimson Tide history, played better.
Barnett is now at Arizona State after deciding to transfer out of the Alabama program in September, but still has some hard feelings toward his former head coach Nick Saban.
“A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said. “I think you could ask just about every teammate and they’d agree that I wasn’t. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it.”
Sorry, Blake, but that supposed negative reputation is not the reason why you became second string. Hurts was simply better. It happened to Crimson Tide quarterbacks before you: Jake Coker lost out to Blake Sims, Cooper Bateman to Coker, and then you to Hurts.
Since the departure of A.J. McCarron in 2013, Saban and the Alabama coaching staff have held highly contested quarterback battles that have sometimes gone three or four weeks into the season. It isn’t every day that Saban will trust a true freshman with the starting role under center, so even after the opening win against USC, Barnett had chances to get back to the first team with either his play or any struggle from Hurts.
Unfortunately for Barnett, neither happened. Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, Hurts became a phenom. What are the chances that Alabama runs the table during the regular season, coming within one second of repeating as national champion, with Barnett under center? Not as likely as it was with Hurts.
Barnett has chance to write the rest of his collegiate chapter with a fresh start in Tempe. He also has the opportunity to be the man for the Sun Devils to start the 2017 season, as he battles Manny Wilkins for the job at quarterback.
The nerves will start again for Barnett, but if he loses out to Wilkins, it won’t be because of the “negative reputation” Saban allegedly placed upon him. It will be because he once again got outplayed.