When one of the top quarterbacks in the nation leaves a game with an injury, it will most certainly be the center of attention of college football fans and the NFL Draft community. On Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Tua Tagovaiola left a game with the ankle injury heard around the football world.
Nick Saban announced after Alabama’s victory over Tennessee that Tagovialoa suffered a twisted ankle. His status moving forward is unknown, although it can typically take at least until the next day to get a fuller understanding of the situation. Saban said in a postgame interview on the field that Tagovailoa will probably be out for about a week, but it sounds like he’ll wait to see how this all plays out.
Saban told ESPN in post-game that Tua Tagovailoa has a high ankle sprain and probably will be out for a week or two.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) October 20, 2019
Tagovailoa left the game late in the first half after suffering the apparent ankle injury. Tagovailoa headed to the locker room early with a disappointed look on his face.
Tua Tagovailoa to the medical tent after this nasty looking ankle injury. pic.twitter.com/AM9cuV11Dx
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 20, 2019
Tua Tagovailoa walking off the field near the end of the second quarter
— Olivia Whitmire WHNT (@omwhitmireTV) October 20, 2019
Tagovailoa was later taken out of Bryant-Denney Stadium and transported to a nearby hospital for further examination in an ambulance.
Tua Tagovailoa is heading out with the ambulance 🙏🏻pic.twitter.com/OUn18vDqIb
— Alabama DieHards (@AlabamaDieHards) October 20, 2019
After being evaluated, Tagovailoa did return to the stadium, according to a sideline report during ESPN’s broadcast of Alabama’s game against Tennessee.
So, what does this all mean? Let’s see if we can break it down a bit.
The loss of Tagovailoa was a tough one for an Alabama offense that has been cruising with him at the helm of the offense. Alabama went with backup Mac Jones for the rest of the game, to mixed results. jones completed just over half of his passes for 72 yards, but it was the Alabama defense that had to keep Tennessee at bay. If Tua is going to be out for “about a week,” as Saban suggested, then Alabama will have to find a way to beat Arkansas at home next week. In this case, the schedule could not have been more forgiving for Alabama, as Alabama should be able to beat 2-5 Arkansas with a fan out of the stands taking snaps at quarterback. Alabama will be on a bye week after the game against Arkansas, giving a little more time to get Tagovailoa ready to go without a game to worry about.
The big picture is the upcoming LSU game on Nov. 9. Not having Tagovailoa for the home game against the Tigers would be a huge loss, and would give LSU a possible advantage the way Joe Burrow has been rolling in Baton Rouge. And of course, that game looks like it may carry some heavy SEC title and College Football Playoff implications.
But would a loss to LSU really hurt Alabama that much in the playoff picture if Tagovailoa isn’t there to play? If Alabama did lose to LSU but wins the rest of their games to go 11-1, would the selection committee give Alabama a pass considering the key injury?
What about the Heisman Trophy? Tagovailoa has been one of the favorites in the Heisman running all season long, but an injury could take him out of the running of Tagovialoa misses any extended period of time (there are some worthy candidates out there doing things, after all).
And what about the NFL Draft? That becomes a fascinating discussion for the Alabama quarterback. In an era where top NFL Draft prospects are sitting out of bowl games with more frequency, could Alabama be at any risk of having Tagovailoa opt out of the postseason too, especially if Alabama does the unthinkable and doesn’t make the College Football Playoff for the first time in program history? Fans of the Miami Dolphins are already planning to do whatever it takes to make sure Tagovailoa is healthy.
On my way to give Tua Tagovailoa my ankle so he can play for the Dolphins next year pic.twitter.com/VgrOqd345J
— #DwyaneWadeLifer (@JBeans_15) October 20, 2019
Okay, we’re probably putting the cart before the horse at this point. But that’s what happens when one of the top college football players and draft prospects leaves a game under these types of circumstances. The football world will focus on the injury updates out of Tuscaloosa over the coming hours, days, and maybe weeks. Meanwhile, Saban will be busy focusing on preparing his backup to keep the season rolling the way it is for the Crimson Tide.
This much we do know. Tagovailoa was in the locker room with a traditional celebratory cigar after the Alabama win over the Vols.
Tua smoking cigar on Instagram live. pic.twitter.com/xCK3io0mrX
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) October 20, 2019