Good for KJ Jefferson? A look at Nick Saban's history against dual-threat quarterbacks


Nick Saban has built a football program at Alabama with little to no weaknesses, but there has been one kryptonite for Alabama football: dual-threat quarterbacks.

Arkansas has a dual-threat quarterback in KJ Jefferson, one of the country's best dual threats. Jefferson was successful in the air last season against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but Arkansas couldn't turn his performance into a victory.

Jefferson's three passing touchdowns were enough to put Saban and the rest of the country on notice.

"KJ Jefferson is dual threat-wise big, strong, really good passer. They've got a lot of quarterback runs, which create another gap on defense," Saban said.

Historically, Saban has had trouble with this style. Since 2008, three dual-threat quarterbacks who beat Saban went on to win the Heisman Trophy. Jefferson has been consistent so far this season, and Saban's words early in the week let us know the dual-threat dynamic might be keeping him up at night.

Let's look at some of the dual-threat who beat Saban in the air and on the ground.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in 2010


Nov 26, 2010; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton (2) warms up before the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Newton's 2010 season was spectacular, and his performance against Alabama in Tuscaloosa cemented the legend of Cam Newton.

Cam led the Tigers on a 24-point comeback with 216 yards and three touchdowns in the air while scoring the infamous goal line touchdown in the third quarter.

Newton became the first Auburn player to win the Heisman since Bo Jackson. Auburn finished the season with a National Championship defeating Oregon, 34-20.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2008


Dec 6, 2008; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow (15) scrambles up the field against the Alabama Crimson Tide defense during the first half of the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

Tebow led the Florida Gators to an SEC Championship, defeating the top-ranked Alabama, 31-20. Tebow threw three touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 57 yards.

The Gators defeated Oklahoma in the national championship, starting a new dynasty in college football.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in 2012


November 10, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) stiff arms Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Deion Belue (13) during the first quarter at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

If it was one performance that I thought epitomized Saban's struggle with talented dual-threat quarterbacks, is Manziel's magical afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Manziel finished with 345 total yards and two passing touchdowns in one of the most classic upsets during the Nick Saban era. Manziel's performances catapulted into another stratosphere after making a team full of future NFL players look inferior.

Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman.

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones in 2014


Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) runs with the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2015 Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Now Jones wasn't the main star of the game. Ezekiel Elliott gave Arkansas 230 yards on the ground, but Jones made some crucial plays throughout the game to help Ohio State win a trip to the national championship game, 42-35.

And to think, it was only his second career start.

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall in 2013


Nov 30, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) runs against Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Trey DePriest (33) during the fourth quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Most people remember this classic game from the Iron Bowl rivalry because of the "Kick Six" but we have to give Marshall his flowers.

Marshall was never considered one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC during his time at Auburn, but he made big plays against Saban's Alabama defense. Marshall rushed for the game's first touchdown and threw the game-tying touchdown to Sammie Coates with 38 seconds left in the game.

He finished the night with 196 total yards, three touchdowns, and zero turnovers.

Clemson quarterback DeSean Watson in


Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Saban called Watson the most dominant player he faced since Cam Newton, and rightfully so. You can go even further and say no other player dominated Alabama as much as Watson.

In two games in January, Watson accumulated 820 yards, seven touchdowns, and a national championship. In the biggest games of the year, against an Alabama defense that had 10-plus players make it to the NFL, Watson was the best player on the field.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire


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