TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tua Tagovailoa felt bad.
Tagovailoa provided Tennessee with its lone highlight of the contest, throwing a third-quarter interception that was returned for a 97-yard touchdown by Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli.
Alabama pounded Tennessee 45-7 and likely would have had a shutout if not for the pick-six.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Tagovailoa felt so bad after the mistake that he told everyone he was sorry.
“You probably don’t know Tua very well, but he apologizes,” Saban said Saturday. “He says ‘thank you’ and apologizes for everything. He was apologizing for that.”
Tagovailoa’s manners have rubbed off on Saban in his first year in Tuscaloosa.
“If you ask Tua how he’s doing, he will say ‘thanks for asking,'” Saban said, smiling. “Sometimes I say that to him now. He’ll go, ‘how’s it going coach,’ and I say ‘good, man, thanks for asking.’ So he’s made me more polite.”
Tagovailoa responded well after the interception. He received a good amount of playing time after starter Jalen Hurts and the first-team offense put the game away early.
Tagovailoa threw for 134 yards and 1 touchdown, while also running for a 23-yard touchdown on the day.
“But he felt bad. Any player would,” Saban said. “I think he got hit right as he was throwing the ball. I couldn’t tell — there were a lot of guys between us and the sideline — whether it was a good decision or not. But, I think the most important thing is he went back in the game, he played well and he made plays. Even though he felt bad about what he did, it didn’t affect his confidence, and I don’t think it affected the player’s confidence in him.”
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