TUSCALOOSA — A beat-up and bruised Alabama took Monday off from its normal practice routine, which is not entirely uncommon the week prior its annual Iron Bowl week.
Still, the break was certainly much-needed, especially for the half-dozen or so Crimson Tide players nursing injuries suffered in last Saturday’s 38-7 win at Mississippi State.
While quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains out for the season following “successful” right hip surgery Monday morning, there are a handful of others that will be “questionable” for Alabama’s home finale against Western Carolina, according to head coach Nick Saban.
Among those could be three of its top defensive linemen with senior defensive end Raekwon Davis (sprained ankle), redshirt sophomore defensive end Phidarian Mathis (unknown) and freshman nose guard D.J. Dale (knee) all might not play Saturday following injuries suffered at Mississippi State.
Junior receiver Henry Ruggs III is also listed as “questionable,” according to Saban, after suffering bruised ribs following a third-quarter tackle in Starkville.
Alabama’s injuries along the defensive line forced the team to rely on even more young players, with both true freshmen ends Justin Eboigbe and Byron Young seeing plenty of action Saturday, along with redshirt freshman end Christian Barmore.
“We basically played the guys that we had available to us,” Saban said Monday. “I think both of the young guys went in, 47 (Young) and 92 (Eboigbe), and they both did a pretty good job of playing. But they have played all year long, so it wasn’t like they’ve never played before. 58 (Barmore) got to play a little bit more because of it. He’s been getting better and better as a player.”
Davis, the lone returning starter along Alabama’s defensive line this season, suffered a sprained ankle on the ensuing defensive possession following Tagovailoa’s injury late in the second quarter, and required him to be carted to Mississippi State’s X-ray room during halftime.
Because of those injuries, Saban said the team might play more of its redshirt-eligible freshmen, including Braylen Ingraham and Ishmael Sopsher, that have yet to participate in four games this season.
“We will actually have to play a couple guys in this game that has not played, but they have games left, so this would not negate the opportunity that they could still be redshirted if they ended up playing in this game,” Saban said. “We have seven scholarship guys left in the defensive line, and they’ll all have to make a contribution in this game if all these guys are out for the game.”