Nick Saban wanted to get a message across to his quarterback.
In May, Saban told reporters that he believed Tua Tagovailoa needed to “challenge himself to get back into great shape.” Tagovailoa was coming off a tremendous season, but struggled with nagging injuries and turnovers late in the year, a year that culminated with a national championship game loss to Clemson.
Saban’s message was received. Tagovailoa, after weighing in at 230 pounds back in March, said Wednesday at SEC media days that he has dropped about 15 pounds this offseason and feels “a lot healthier.”
According to Sports Illustrated, Tagovailoa and his younger brother (and fellow Alabama quarterback) Taulia were put on a strict diet by their father this summer to accompany their training regiment. As a result, he was able to lose the weight and feels he is better prepared for the upcoming season.
“I’m at a goal that I think I reached better than what I could think of for myself and what coach Saban set for me,” Tagovailoa said per the Montgomery Advertiser. “Coach wants me at 218, and I’m about 215, 214.”
How can Tua improve in 2019?
Tagovailoa believes the weight loss will help him fend off the nagging injuries he dealt with through the 2018 season, his first as Alabama’s starter. Tagovailoa sprained both ankles over the course of the season and also tweaked a hamstring at one point. He said Wednesday that he has placed an added emphasis on spending time in the training room — even if he may not be experiencing any pain.
“I am getting into the training room as much as possible,” he said. “Whether I feel the need to do it or I don’t, I have been getting into the training room more than I think I could ever imagine, and I am not even hurt. When I was hurt, I was in there a lot, and now I am in there more.”
Tagovailoa, the Heisman runner-up, suffered a high ankle sprain in the SEC title game against Georgia but was able to return to action for the College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma. He diced up the Sooners for 318 yards and four touchdowns on 24-of-27 throwing, but struggled in the national title game loss to Clemson, including putting his team behind early by throwing a pick-six.
Saban said there is still room for Tagovailoa to improve, especially with decision-making and his propensity to go for the big play.
“Towards the end of the season, we turned the ball over a little bit more offensively than what we had in the first half of the season. And I'm sure that he wants to make sure that the decision-making that led to some of those things are something that he can improve on,” Saban said.
“Tua is a great competitor, so he's going to try to make a great play every play. And sometimes those things have worked out extremely well. And other times they've led to some disasters. So having a little better judgment about when to say when can be an asset from a health standpoint as well as eliminate negative play standpoint, even though sometimes he's done that and it's worked out great.”
More from Yahoo Sports: