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Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa suffered a significant right hip injury with the No. 5 Crimson Tide up 35-7 on Mississippi State late in the first half.
Tagovailoa was scrambling to his left and threw the ball away as he was chased by two Bulldog defenders and he landed awkwardly on his right leg. He also hit his head and suffered what appeared to be a cut on his face or a bloody nose.
Tagovailoa was carted off the field after he was unable to put weight on that right leg.
Alabama said Saturday night that Tagovailoa would miss the rest of the season with a hip dislocation. The Athletic had previously reported that Tagovailoa had dislocated his right hip and also suffered a posterior wall fracture.
“Tua Tagovailoa sustained a right hip dislocation that was immediately reduced at the stadium,” Alabama team orthopedic surgeon Lyle Cain said in a statement. “He is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment. He is expected to make a full recovery but will miss the remainder of the season.”
Tagovailoa in the game for 2-minute drill practice
There was some discussion amongst the Alabama coaching staff whether to keep Tagovailoa in the game for that late second-half possession. Saban said that the team had thought about putting backup QB Mac Jones into the game before deciding that Tagovailoa should stay in because of the potential two-minute drill practice.
“We were going to put Mac in and then we said we’ll let Tua do two-minute before the half just for practice,” Saban said. “And I don’t worry about players getting hurt and certainly don’t want to see anybody get hurt, especially him.”
An ambulance left Davis-Wade Stadium in the third quarter shielded from the view of those inside the stadium by a Mississippi State banner. That ambulance, which was surrounded by Alabama staff, presumably carried Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa was also flown to a hospital in Birmingham.
“Godspeed to him and his entire family and our thoughts and prayers are with him and hope this is not so serious that it has any long-term effect on his future as a player,” Saban said after the game.
Tagovailoa injured right ankle in October
Tagovailoa played against No. 1 LSU on Nov. 9 just three weeks after having a surgical procedure after he suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee on Oct. 19. He missed just one game during that span and was listed as a game-time decision for Mississippi State game. But he went through pre-game drills and all systems were go for Saturday’s contest.
He looked great until the injury as well. He was 14-of-18 passing for 256 yards and threw two touchdown passes as the Tide blitzed the Bulldogs.
The upcoming debate: Should he have been in?
The discussion started happening as soon as Tagovailoa went down. Should he have been in the game with his team up 28 points against an inferior opponent when he didn’t start the game fully healthy?
Saban’s explanation for why Tagovailoa was in the game makes perfect sense and is easily defensible. You don’t see starters pulled in the first half of conference games — no matter how big of a blowout the game is — very often. And game situations are great times to practice the two-minute offense. The decision to keep him in the game isn’t even a blip if the drive merely results in a touchdown or a punt.
Alas, it sadly resulted with Tagovailoa in some serious pain. Injuries can strike at any time during football games. And this is, unfortunately, one of those times.
While Tagovailoa being on the sidelines could have prevented the injury, the decision to keep him in the game had a relatively small risk attached to it. And sometimes low-probability scenarios come to fruition.
Tagovailoa had a Heisman-worthy season until injuries
Tagovailoa has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football in 2019. But his Heisman hopes likely disappeared with that right ankle injury against the Volunteers.
He had thrown for 27 touchdowns and two interceptions before he injured his ankle. And he came back to throw four touchdowns and for 418 yards in that 46-41 loss to the Tigers a week ago. But he also had an unforced fumble and an interception in the first half that helped LSU jump out to a 20-point lead at halftime.
Counting the first half of the game against Mississippi State, Tagovailoa is 180-of-252 passing for 2,840 yards and 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also rushed for two scores. It seems he won’t have an opportunity to add to those statistics before the end of the season.
If he is indeed out for the season, Alabama’s playoff case is also significantly impacted. The Crimson Tide were the first team out of the top four after losing to LSU and still had a shot at the playoff with an 11-1 regular season. And a healthy Tagovailoa.
Without a healthy Tagovailoa, an Alabama team that probably won’t go to the SEC Championship Game because of that LSU loss isn’t an enticing option for the top four. Teams like Utah, Oregon and even Oklahoma could have better one-loss cases with healthy quarterbacks and potential conference championships.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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