Alabama football: What's next for Tide's young secondary following Trevon Diggs' injury
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Trevon Diggs’ injury comes at the worst possible time for Alabama.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban announced Monday that Diggs would be out “indefinitely” with a foot injury.
“Trevon Diggs broke his foot in the game on Saturday,” Saban said. “I did not know about this until yesterday when they did an MRI. He’s going to be out indefinitely.”
Diggs was Alabama’s top option at cornerback, starting every game this season. He has 1 of Alabama’s 10 interceptions this season. Saban didn’t say when the injury happened, but Diggs played the majority of the contest in Alabama’s 65-31 win over Arkansas. He had 7 tackles and broke up a pass.
In the long-term, there’s a chance Diggs could be back for the postseason depending on how severe the fracture was. In the short-term, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Alabama hosts Missouri for Homecoming on Saturday. While no one believes the Tigers have a chance of beating the Tide, removing Diggs from Alabama’s defense could give Drew Lock and Missouri’s top-10 offense something to exploit.
Where does Alabama go from here?
Patrick Surtain II has stepped in nicely as a true freshman. He replaced junior college transfer Saivion Smith during the Ole Miss game, and has started the past three contests opposite Diggs.
Diggs’ injury likely brings Smith back into the starting lineup. Beyond that, things get tricky. If Smith starts, Alabama will need a third defensive back to step up for its dime package.
Smith, who also has 1 interception this season, had been playing corner in dime with Diggs sliding inside to play “Star” or fifth defensive back, which moved Shyheim Carter from Star to safety.
Beyond Surtain II and Smith, Nigel Knott, freshman Josh Jobe and Kyriq McDonald are options at corner.
That trio is talented, but obviously inexperienced.
Saban noted that Alabama has 5 defensive starters or key backups who are out for an “extended period of time,” including three defensive backs.
The timing is less than ideal, considering Lock is viewed as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. Lock enters the game in a bit of a rut. He hasn’t thrown a TD pass in his past two games. Remember, he set the SEC record with 44 TD passes last season.
Even though Missouri’s receiving unit is dealing with its own injuries, that hasn’t impacted the game plan. The Tigers throw it, on average, 41.2 times a game, 10th nationally and by far the most in the SEC.
Ready or not, Alabama’s young secondary will be tested Saturday.
“So it’s going to be challenging,” Saban said. “We’re obviously very thin and need some other guys to step up and develop and next guy up has got to take the challenge and play well for us. Patrick has played quite a bit at his position.
“So we do have two guys that have some experience, but we don’t have a lot of depth right now and we’re going to have to work to get some other players to develop and be able to play for us.”