Alabama football: Tide fans ready to sacrifice their knees; Jalen Hurts ready
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — If given the opportunity, nearly every Alabama fan would give up their knee if it meant keeping quarterback Tua Tagovailoa healthy this season.
As much as non-Alabama fans hate to see Alabama win, the entire sport should be rooting for Tagovailoa to stay healthy. He has been the most intriguing story in college football.
But for 15 or so minutes during Alabama’s 39-10 win over Missouri, it felt like this Cinderella story was coming to an end as Tagovailoa was being checked for a knee injury.
Whatever Alabama head athletic trainer Jeff Allen did in the medical tent worked, and Tagovailoa emerged in one piece.
“Tua could have went back in the game, he wanted to go back in the game,” coach Nick Saban said. “I didn’t think it was worth putting him back in the game. He sort of tweaked his knee a little bit, same one he tweaked last week. We don’t think there’s any issues or problems with it.”
Knee injuries usually only heal with rest, but there isn’t a ton of time for Tagovailoa to rest during the week.
Alabama plays at Tennessee this coming Saturday. They could win no matter who is at quarterback, but it will be interesting to see how Tagovailoa is managed.
Will he be on a pitch count to give him added rest time with a bye week after Tennessee? The injury itself is concerning, but the most important thing is how Tagovailoa feels about it.
He “tweaked” the knee on a scramble Saturday in an attempt to pick up a first down against Missouri. Will he be reluctant to run? How will the injury affect his pocket mobility, which is one of his best assets? All of these are important questions as we analyze the most unstoppable offense in college football this season.
Jalen Hurts stays ready
There was a time a portion of Alabama’s fanbase and many around the country wanted Jalen Hurts to transfer or change positions. People questioned why Hurts would stick around at Alabama and risk a year of eligibility sitting behind Tagovailoa.
But Alabama has found a way to keep Hurts involved, playing him at quarterback and using him as an H-back. Hurts has shown improvement in the pocket. He delivered two beautiful throws on Saturday, one to Jerry Jeudy and another to Henry Ruggs III.
Surely Alabama fans don’t want anything serious to happen to Tagovailoa, but there is some level of assurance that Hurts could step in and do the job. He did help Alabama to back-to-back national championship games, and was a second away from winning it all in 2016.
Had Hurts listened to the naysayers this offseason, Alabama would be in a precarious spot given Tagovailoa’s injury.
Hurts has remained ready whenever his opportunities have come. Hurts was 7-of-8 for 115 yards on Saturday.
“We have every confidence that Jalen has really improved as a pocket passer,” Saban said. “I’m really pleased with the way he played today, and I’ve been pleased with the way he’s played all year.”
Saban, students back on good terms
Alabama’s stiffest competition this season has been Saban vs. the student section. Saban ripped the students two weeks ago for not showing up to the Crimson Tide’s brunch game against Louisiana-Lafayette. There were pockets of empty seats throughout the stadium, but it was even more noticeable among the students.
On Saturday, Bryant-Denny Stadium had a great atmosphere. Whether it was Homecoming or a night game or that Dixieland Delight was back, Alabama fans and students packed the stadium and were engaged throughout.
“If I’m going to get on people for not coming to the game, I should really tell them how pleased I am with what a great atmosphere we had in the stadium today,” Saban said. “Students were great, enthusiasm was great, Dixieland Delight was great. I mean, it was really, really good. I’m really happy. That’s the way it should be at Alabama.”
All feels right in the world now. We’ll see how the two sides feel when Alabama plays Citadel in November.