Saturday night's showdown between Alabama and Florida (8 p.m. ET, on CBS) is the biggest one of the season yet, for both national title hopefuls. Unfortunately, neither side will enter it at 100 percent.
Nick Saban confirmed on his radio show Thursday night that starting inside linebacker C.J. Mosley would very likely miss the game in Gainesville with the elbow injury suffered the previous week against Arkansas. Mosley had been described as a "game-time decision" earlier in the week, but apparently the elbow has not progressed as quickly as Saban would have liked.
Saban didn't attempt to downplay the importance of the loss, even with several high-quality candidates -- Jerrell Harris, Nico Johnson and five-star freshman Trey DePriest, already third on the team in tackles -- working together to replace him.
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But due to the presence of players like Harris, Johnson, and DePriest, Saban might still take his own defensive injury woes over the Gators'. According to the Gainesville Sun, starting defensive linemen Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd are both battling injuries and could be forced to sit out the game.
The good news for Florida is that neither should be forced to sit. Easley tweaked an ankle injury in Tuesday's practice and is reportedly "probable," while Floyd suffered a shoulder stinger and is likewise expected to play. Both players have practiced throughout the week.
But if ever there was a time a defensive lineman would want to be completely healthy, it's the week Alabama comes to town. It's no secret that the Tide are going to run Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy (himself an injury risk) into the teeth of that Gator line as often as down-and-distance allows. If Easley and Floyd aren't at the top of their game, Florida runs the risk of being flat bulldozed over by halftime--to say nothing of the fourth quarter.
Of course, this is already the tail end of September, when nearly every team has at least one starter out and a few more banged-up. Neither the Gators nor Tide will use their injuries as an excuse in the event of a loss--but neither situation is going to help them pull out the victory Saturday, either.