Alabama Auburn

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) is interviewed after defeating Auburn in the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday November 24, 2018.

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Oh, that Nick Saban! He's such a card.

Meeting with reporters at the annual SEC meetings, Saban dared to say that all-world quarterback Tua Tagovailoa needs to "challenge himself" and that he "should take the perception that he has a lot to prove relative to how we ended the season."

Umm, Saban isn't wrong.

I know, I know, Tua is the greatest, the most wonderful, most excellent quarterback who ever lived, and Saban is crazy to think he can do better.

Yes, when Tagovailoa on, he is arguably as good as any passer in Southeastern Conference history. He also has the potential to be a transcendent NFL quarterback. Here's hoping he gets drafted by a team that plays Kyler Murray's Arizona Cardinals regularly. Imagine those matchups every year.

But, while Tagovailoa is terrific, he's not perfect. He benefitted last year from an outstanding offensive line and the best, deepest receiving corps in school history.

As Saban said, Tagovailoa needs to get back into "great shape" after struggling with injuries a year ago. He needs to grow as a quarterback, too. At times, it seems as if he has one gear — all out, all the time.

He clearly loves to throw deep and watch one of those brilliant receivers chase down his pass. There's more to quarterbacking than what Tagovailoa has done so far. We saw Clemson exploit Tagovailoa's mindset in a championship game win over Alabama in January.

Tagovailoa is a rare talent who has accomplished plenty, but he still has room to grow, and Saban is doing his job by demanding more from him.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

This article originally ran on annistonstar.com.

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