Saban plans to play Tagovailoa vs. The Citadel

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been bothered by a right knee injury, but can still practice.Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Nick Saban: "He needs to do a better job of stepping up in the pocket and getting rid of the ball."

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been bothered by a knee injury in recent weeks, but head coach Nick Saban said Monday he plans to have Tagovailoa play this week against The Citadel.

Tagovailoa left the Mississippi State game on Saturday after getting hit on his right knee, which is the one that has bothered him. But Saban said Tagovailoa is OK and will practice in preparation for Saturday’s game against The Citadel, which will be a huge underdog.

Saban was asked Monday if he would consider leaving Tagovailoa on the bench for Saturday’s game to allow him to rest the knee.

“No. Why would we do that?” Saban said. “I mean, to say this was not an important game or he doesn’t need to play? I think we need to do a better job of the people playing around him, doing what they’re supposed to do so he doesn’t get hit. And he needs to do a better job of stepping up in the pocket and getting rid of the ball, which he had several opportunities to do.

“Some of these hits could be avoided by better execution, and I think that’s what we’re going to focus on, not trying to take a guy out of the game so he can’t improve or do what he needs to do to get better.”

Tagovailoa was sacked four times against Mississippi State and sat out the fourth quarter. However, Saban said Tagovailoa could have returned if needed in the Tide’s 24-0 win.

Backup Jalen Hurts sat out the past two games with an ankle injury, so Mac Jones has been getting more practice time.

Saban said Hurts is day-to-day.

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