It is no secret that Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is one of the best players not only for his team but in the entire nation. When 100% healthy, he plays at an elite level that replicates some of the best quarterbacks to ever play college football. Whenever he suffered multiple injuries last season, it severely impacted Alabama all the way up to the National Championship. This past Saturday in the 35-13 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers, the Heisman Trophy candidate suffered another setback by suffering a high ankle sprain. Tagovailoa would miss 10-days of activity (since Monday) and will be re-evaluated afterward to see if he can play again. This injury may potentially cost him the Heisman Trophy. But the Crimson Tide may have a bigger obstacle to deal with involving Tagovailoa.
The Injury Does Not Come At A Good Time
Losing the best player on your team is not a good happenstance in the middle of the season. On Saturday, the Volunteers’ defense was more aggressive than the Crimson Tide anticipated. Tagovailoa was sacked and was taken out of the game one play later. He left the game walking under his own power towards the locker room and was eventually taken to the hospital. He came back to Bryant-Denny Stadium to be with his team, but he was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.
Sunday he had what is called “tightrope surgery.” It is a procedure designed to expedite recovery time in ankle injuries, particularly high ankle sprains. The gap between the fibula and tibia is reduced, often using synthetic threading instead of hardware, thus speeding up the recovery time.
Tagovailoa has encountered a history of injuries last season and this season. He suffered a significant knee injury after the middle of last season and showed signs of weakness.
In the six games before the knee injury last season, he threw for 1,495 yards, 18 touchdowns, and no interceptions. In the seven games with his knee injury, he threw for 1,858 yards, 19 touchdowns, and four interceptions. The main difference is the completion percentage when he completed 75.2% of his passes in the first six games and then 63.7% of his passes after the knee injury. He will miss the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks (2-5) this upcoming Saturday. The Tide believes Tagovailoa will be back for the #2 LSU Tigers (7-0) match-up after their bye-week after Arkansas. The Razorbacks rank 93rd in the nation in points allowed per game (30.7) and 109th in rushing yards allowed per game (193.7). The Tide will be playing better opponents later in the season including #2 LSU and #9 Auburn (6-1).
Tua Tagovailoa Could Be Back For LSU
While there is hope that Tagovailoa could be fine when his 10-days of healing are over, the problem goes beyond that. Whenever Tagovailoa played through the slight knee injury, he became more frustrated at times last season. If he comes out of the 10-day period nearly at 65%-to-75%, he cannot push himself too hard physically or mentally. He is aiming to be cleared for physical activity on Thursday, October 31st or Friday, November 1st. This is the bye-week before the upcoming “game of the century part three” against LSU on Saturday, November 9th. With so much of the offensive philosophy surrounding Tagovailoa, it will be crucial for him to play against the Tigers. It is even more crucial with the potential shootout that the Tide and Tigers expect to be.
Before the game against Tennessee, the Tide ranked second in points per game (51). They were third in passing yards per game (366), and sixth in total yards per game (536.8). After the injury to Tagovailoa when the passing offense stalled completely. The Tide ranks fourth in points per game (48.7), fourth in passing yards per game (347), and ninth in total yards per game (513.4). LSU’s quarterback Joe Burrow is now in second place in many Heisman Trophy including Last Word on College Football’s rankings. Burrow has led the LSU Tigers to become the second-ranked scoring offense (50.1 points per game) and second in passing offense (385.7 passing yards per game). Before the injury to Tagovailoa, this matchup between the Tide and Tigers projected to be the battle for the Heisman Trophy. Now the Tide are looking to get Tagovailoa healthy enough to move efficiently and throw comfortably.
Tagovailoa From The Heisman Race?
The injury has certain put his Heisman Trophy hopes to the side once again. Former Alabama quarterback and current Oklahoma Sooner Jalen Hurts currently leads the rankings for the Heisman Trophy. Burrow is not far from overlapping Hurts as he has been electric for the Tigers. Tagovailoa isn’t out of the race but it puts him at a disadvantage by missing the matchup versus Arkansas. Even if he comes back for the LSU matchup, he may not be 100%, which may bring down his passing. Crimson Tide nation is more concerned with him coming back healthy enough to play consistently. Alabama never missed a College Football Playoff since the first playoffs in 2014. It would a down season to miss the playoffs due to overusing of one of the best quarterbacks to ever play for the Crimson Tide.
Tua Tagovailoa Main Photo:
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 19: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide passes against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)