Standing beside his locker, Jalen Hurts had the same calm expression answering questions in defeat as he wears playing in a game.
Alabama had just lost 44-16 to Clemson in the national championship game and the Crimson Tide backup quarterback was already talking about next year. His message to young players wasn’t complicated.
“Learn from it,” Hurts said. “We have to find a way to shake back. Shake back. It’s been done before and it dang sure can be done again. We have to find ways to learn from it and improve from it and shake back. And it will happen.”
Hurts had a minimal role coming off the bench Monday night. He was 0-for-2 passing with a sack in the middle after entering at the 11:12 mark in the fourth quarter. Clemson held the ball for the final 10:02 after that 3-and-out and that was that.
A question about his future was quickly sidestepped in the aftermath of the loss.
“That’s not even a thing for me,” Hurts said. “I’m with my teammates. We just came up short on the national championship and it hurts.”
The starter in 2016 and 2017 graduated in December, leaving open the possibility of a graduate transfer but Hurts has not addressed any potential change of scenery after losing his starting job last fall.
Instead, he turned answers Monday night into an opportunity for Alabama to learn for next season.
Was this loss more difficult than the 35-31, last-second loss to Clemson two years ago in the championship?
“There’s no … a loss is a loss,” Hurts said. “A loss is a loss. The category doesn’t change. They scored more points than we did and we lost the game. Every loss hurts. We have to turn those losses into a lesson and find ways to learn from it and improve the next time around.”