Gary Danielson: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa 'doesn't have spring in his step'

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The status of No. 3 Alabama starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the showdown with No. 2 LSU has been in doubt every since the star junior suffered a high ankle sprain three weeks ago against Tennessee. That speculation cranked up a notch two days later when he underwent the innovative "tight-rope" surgery to accelerate his rehabilitation.

One day prior to taking on the Tigers, there's still concern that he might not be 100 percent. SEC on CBS analyst Gary Danielson was at Alabama's practice on Thursday and commented on SiriusXM on what he saw from the 2018 Heisman Trophy finalist.

"I watched Tua practice yesterday, he's not 100 percent," Danielson said. "I don't care what Alabama says ... he doesn't have that spring in his step, it's not natural. He's okay...I'd be playing if I was him, but he's not the Tua that started season."

Coach Nick Saban provided a bit more detail to CBS Sports HQ on what Tagovailoa is capable of doing.

"[Tagovailoa] has short-area quickness," he told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd. " [He] can play well in the pocket. It hasn't affected his throwing at all."

If he isn't going to be 100 percent in time for kickoff, how healthy is he? What's more important, though, is how healthy he will be when he is forced to cut at game speed. Can the ankle hold up when it's landed on by multiple 300-pound Tiger linemen? How much will it deteriorate over the four quarters of the "Game of the Century Part 2" in Tuscaloosa?

Tagovailoa has been the catalyst of the Crimson Tide offensive renaissance over the last two seasons. He has completed 74.7% of his passes (145-of-194) for 2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions this season. Redshirt sophomore Mac Jones stepped in for Tagovailoa in the win over Tennessee, and went 18-of-22 for 235 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions the following week in a 48-7 win over Arkansas.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers will tee it up at 3:30 p.m. ET at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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