In his Sunday morning statement, when University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban announced Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle surgery, he stopped short of providing a timeline. With an extra day to collect information, Saban provided a loose timeline for his starting quarterback’s return, but one still shadowed by uncertainty.
“There’s no real timetable for his return but the expectation is he will be non-weight bearing for several days and then he’ll be able to come back as his rehab allows him,” Saban said. “We’re hopeful that in a 10-day period, he’ll be back being able to do active-type rehab, and we’ll see how it goes from there. But these things are pretty unpredictable at this point.”
Also on the injury front, Saban said kicker/punter Will Reichard received another MRI Monday on his pulled hip flexor, which he reinjured against Tennessee. Saban said Reichard is unlikely to play against Arkansas.
Even with Tagovailoa on the mend, it’s possible UA still fields that surname. Mac Jones will be No. 1 UA’s starting quarterback Saturday night against Arkansas, but freshman Taulia Tagovailoa is the backup and will be treated accordingly in practice.
“Well, he’s the backup quarterback in this game, so it is an option,” Saban said of the younger Tagovailoa. “He’s got a lot of talent. We’ve tried to get him some reps throughout the course of the year in case this happened. So it’s going to be really important that we do a good job of progressing him this week as well.”
Next step: outside
Both in postgame remarks and in his Monday press conference, Saban made a point to compliment UA’s rushing attack, but specifically on, “direct runs,” ones that challenge the inside as opposed to the perimeter.
Tight end Miller Forristall sees one way to extend the interior success to the outside.
“It’s always going to be a pad level, hat placement, hands, especially for me, whether it be coming off the ball,” Forristall said. “I’m not as big as some of these D-linemen that we play, I’m not 300 pounds. So, I have to play super aggressive at the point of attack and play low. When I play high, bad things happen; when I play low, good things happen. And that’s something we continue to work on, whether it be blocking guys like Terrell (Lewis) or Anfernee (Jennings) or Raekwon (Davis) or any of these guys, that kind of helps me in practice.
“If I have a good week of good-on-good, I usually block well. If I have a bad week of good-on-good, I don’t block as well.”
As expected, Tua Tagovailoa was not with the quarterbacks in practice. Jones practiced as the first quarterback and Taulia Tagovailoa as the second.
Left guard Evan Neal practiced as normal with the offensive linemen, after a brief injury absence near the end of the Tennessee game.
McKinney one step closer
The Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, named 14 semifinalists Monday. Alabama safety Xavier McKinney was one of them.
McKinney is UA’s leader and sixth in the SEC in tackles (53). Minkah Fitzpatrick won the award in 2017.
Players of the week
For the first time in his career, Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. In his 62 snaps, he missed just one assignment. He did not allow a sack, hurry or quarterback pressure.
Leatherwood was also named a player of the week by the UA coaching staff, alongside running back Najee Harris. Harris ran 21 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, plus four catches for 48 yards.
The defensive players of the week were outside linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis. Lewis matched his career high of two sacks in tallying seven tackles, a total of three tackles for a loss. Jennings also had seven tackles.
Ale Kaho and Ty Perine were the special teams honorees. Kaho had a kickoff coverage tackle and has been named a special teams player of the week in four of UA’s seven games thus far; Perine took over punting duties, punting twice for an average 46 1/2 yards, one of them a 51-yarder, and helped tackle a punt returner.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson