Alabama has been so dominant this year en route to its 5-0 start that its backups have received plenty of reps. That will pay off this weekend against Texas A&M because the Crimson Tide will be without one of their top defensive players.
Da'Shawn Hand -- preseason first-team All-SEC selection and former five-star prospect from Woodbridge, Virginia -- is out this week after suffering a knee injury last week in the 66-3 win over Ole Miss, coach Nick Saban confirmed in his Wednesday press conference.
The injury occurred early in the third quarter, when Rebel tight end Dawson Knox came across the box and cut Hand low. Here's a look at the play in live action.
While it looked much more serious at the time, Matt Zenitz of AL.com reported Tuesday that Hand sprained his MCL and will be out for three games. The junior has 11 tackles and 1.5 for loss on the season.
His stats don't necessarily jump off the page right now based mostly on the fact that Alabama has put in its reserves in games early and often this year, but he's a vital pice of the Crimson Tide defensive puzzle moving forward.
Texas A&M has developed a dangerous multi-dimensional rushing attack with quarterback Kellen Mond and running backs Keith Ford, Trayveon Williams and Kendall Bussey that currently ranks second in the SEC in yards per game on the ground (255.6 yards per game). Hand's ability to get upfield, move side-to-side and experience within the system would have been a huge asset this weekend against the Aggies, a team that Saban knows can be dangerous.
"They do a lot of quarterback runs, and [Mond] has gained 252 yards rushing the ball," Saban said in his Wednesday press conference. "He's done a good job with the quarterback runs, and to have that threat of a guy who can run the ball, certainly complements the three really good running backs that they have who can run the ball as well.
Top-ranked Alabama will square off with Texas A&M Saturday night at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.