Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went down with a high-ankle sprain in the first half of No.1 Alabama's win over Tennessee on Saturday night. After going into the injury tent and walking gingerly to the locker room, he didn't return. Speculation surrounding his availability for the showdown with No. 2 LSU on Saturday, Nov. 9 (live on CBS) started before he even took his pads off.
Tagovailoa will miss Saturday night's game vs. Arkansas, and the Crimson Tide have a bye week the following weekend. If all goes according to plan, the 2018 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy finalist will be back in time to play the Tigers, according to coach Nick Saban.
Tagovailoa underwent tight-rope surgery on his right ankle to accelerate the healing process. That procedure, which is relatively new in the medical world, essentially ties up the ankle from the inside in order to keep it stable while patients rehab. Tagovailoa had the same procedure on his left ankle in preparation for the College Football Playoff following the 2018 SEC Championship Game win over Georgia.
Tagovailoa has completed 74.7 percent of his passes (145 of 194) for 2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions in seven games this season. He has proven to be one of the game's most reliable players over the last two year.
Needless to say, Alabama needs its star back -- just not this week. Mac Jones will get the start this week for the Crimson Tide, who are nearly five-touchdown favorites over the Razorbacks. The next game will be a different story.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has led an offensive renaissance for Ed Orgeron's Tigers. The redshirt senior leads the SEC with 354.9 passing yards per game and 29 touchdown passes. The only passing offense in the country that has been more prolific this year is Washington State, which runs the Air Raid under coach Mike Leach. That's a 180-degree turn from the Stone Age offense that LSU used to run.