Saban: QB Tagovailoa will be ready for playoffs

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) is carted off the field after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Xchange

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is expected to be available for the College Football Playoff despite sustaining a high ankle sprain in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said an MRI revealed the injury and that he didn’t think it would keep Tagovailoa out of the postseason.

Alabama (13-0) will face No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29.

Tagovailoa, who is considered a front runner for the Heisman Trophy, injured his left ankle on sack in the first quarter and his right ankle in the fourth on Saturday.

“Hopefully by the time we start practicing again, Tua will be back on the field and ready to go,” Saban said.

Jalen Hurts entered Saturday’s 35-28 win over the Bulldogs and led Alabama on a pair of touchdown-scoring drives. The junior would get the nod if Tagovailoa is not ready to play later this month.

Tagovailoa completed just 10 of 25 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Bulldogs.

Hurts was a two-year starter and won an SEC Offensive Player of the Year award before being benched in favor of Tagovailoa this season. He completed 7 of 9 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown versus Georgia and had five carries for 28 yards and a score.

“I’ve probably never been more proud of a player than Jalen,” Saban said. “It’s unprecedented to have a guy that won as many games as he won, I think 26 or something, over a two-year period, start as a freshman, only lose a couple of games this whole time that he was the starter, and then all of the sudden he’s not the quarterback.

“How do you manage that? How do you handle that? You’ve got to have a tremendous amount of character and class to put the team first, knowing your situation is not what it used to be, and for a guy that’s a great competitor, that takes a lot.”