The next week and a half is critical in the recovery from ankle surgery for Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. For ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, the plan for the LSU game and who plays at quarterback really comes into focus next week.

The consensus opinion about Tagovailoa’s right ankle injury is that he will be less than 100 percent against LSU, similar to what he was last season when he came back from the same injury on his left ankle.

“After this week, it’s the bye week,” Herbstreit said on the “College Football Podcast with Herbstreit and Pollack,” according to BamaOnline. “He’s so talented he can take mental reps in that bye week and study LSU and really get tuned in. You hope to get a day or two of practice out of him the week leading into the game. Here’s the concern, though. You’re going to throw him out, potentially, in what I think is going to be a shootout. I don’t think Bama will stop Joe Burrow. I just don’t. I think LSU, if Tua is healthy, has a hard time stopping Tua and that offense. So, the game means you need Tua healthy. If he gets dinged or he has to scramble, you just hold your breath every time he’s in some kind of contact. It’s one thing to rest after a high-ankle sprain and that procedure, give it two-and-a-half or three weeks, and then you go out. You truly have not tested it until you get on the field that night.”

The question will be if Nick Saban and the coaching staff has a plan ready in case Tagovailoa aggravates the injury, or is more limited than they planned.

“Now you’re hoping somebody doesn’t sack him, he doesn’t have to scramble, there isn’t some kind of collision that forces him instinctively to use some kind of extra effort,” Herbstreit said. “Now he’s pushing to get that extra yard. Now he’s straining that ankle. Now he’s back to square one. High-ankle sprain, anyone who has ever had one know, if you force it a little early to come back, you’re just a slight tweak away from going all the way back to where now you can’t even walk on it.”

Herbstreit believes Mac Jones is capable, especially against Arkansas this week, but may not be enough to knock off LSU.

“Hopefully he’s healthy,” Herbstreit said of Tagovailoa. “Hopefully he’s ready to go because all of us want to see healthy Tua and Alabama versus a healthy Joe Burrow and LSU. May the better team win. I hate that he’s already a little gimpy going into the game.”