Alabama Football: ‘Next man up’ not the same after Tua Tagovailoa injury

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Alabama football mantra of ‘next man up’ is being severely tested in Tuscaloosa after sensational Crimson Tide quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa went down with an injury.

Alabama football fans are sure no college football team has ever been so tested by injuries than has the Crimson Tide. Two seasons in a row, multiple key players have been lost to injuries.

The latest and most emotionally devastating injury happened to Tua Tagovailoa in the second quarter of Saturday night’s game against Tennessee. On a routine tackle, Tua’s right ankle buckled under his body, tearing a ligament. It was the same injury Tua incurred last season to his other ankle. Rumors among Alabama football insiders claim this year’s ankle injury was not as severe as the one last season.

Both of the ankle injuries were treated with the same surgical approach called a ‘tight rope’ procedure that effectively gives the ankle a new bionic ligament. As such, it is moot if the injury this season was less severe. Two things matter much. One is last season, the injured ankle was on the left-handed thrower’s left, plant foot. This season it is not. Last season Tua had 29 days to recover. This season, Tua is hoping to play LSU after just 20 days.

Tua pledged to teammates Saturday night that he would play against LSU. The odds are favorable he can. What is unknown is at what percentage of health the ankle will be – 70 to 90 percent is the probable range.

‘Next man up’ means redshirt sophomore Mac Jones is QB1 in T-Town. Jones had a bit of shaky beginning Saturday night. He finished 6-for-11 and in fairness, a couple of catchable passes were dropped. Jones was once a 3-Star recruit, rated as the No. 18 Pro-style QB in the 2017 class, based on the 247Sports Composite. His college career has been almost totally mop-up work. He has thrown 45 passes and completed 25, for two touchdowns and one interception.

Nick Saban and Jones’ teammates are saying all the right things. Their confidence in Jones is no doubt measured in the context of the next opponent. On Saturday night, against Arkansas, the Crimson Tide probably has a dozen players it could win with at quarterback.

Alabama football fans have no such confidence if Tua is a no-go for the LSU game. That is not fair to Mac Jones. With a full week of preparation, Mac is likely to perform credibly against the Hogs. He has a strong and accurate arm. Given a massive injection of composure and the heavens aligning in the Tide’s favor on Nov. 9., Jones might walk out of Bryant-Denny as the Tide’s national championship dreams-savior.

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Few Crimson Tide fans are buying that premise. As we explained in a previous post, if the Tide accomplishes certain benchmarks, it could beat LSU without Tua. No one in Tuscaloosa has much interest in that argument. Not Tua and perhaps not even Mac Jones.