Injuries have been on the forefront of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s mind this week when he would rather focus on Saturday’s matchup. No. 9 Tennessee is looking to upset No. 1 Alabama to end a nine-game losing streak, and one key that may factor into an upset is the health of Crimson Tide starters Reuben Foster and Alphonse Taylor.
Foster, the middle linebacker, and Taylor, the usual right guard, both sustained concussions last week against Arkansas. The two are an integral part of Alabama’s success. Foster leads the team in tackles with 37, while Taylor is the only senior on the offensive line.
Foster was seen Wednesday at practice wearing a non-contact black uniform. He running full speed in pass-coverage drills. Taylor, on the other hand, was not seen at practice. Lester Cotton filled Taylor’s void in drills. Saban announced both players are questionable for the game in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“Look, I’ve got nothing to do with it. I’m not a doctor. I’m not part of the medical staff. I never determine whether a player plays or doesn’t play,” Saban said. “There is a protocol and there is a number of things that a player has to do. I have too much respect for the players and their futures and their careers to ever put a player at risk.”
Saban emphasized the importance of keeping players’ futures in mind and mentioned Monday how much the concussion protocol has changed since he played for Kent State in the 1970s.
“I don’t think you want to talk about when I was playing,” Saban said. “If you got hit in the head and you knew your name and where you were from, you were ready to go back in. And that’s not a good thing. And if you got the wind knocked out of you, that wasn’t a big thing. Player safety issues, I think, have to be looked at.”
Fans will have to wait and see if either player jogs out on the field Saturday, but Saban has had to plan for the worst. The next player in line will have to produce.
Other notes from Wednesday’s press conference:
On longer games:
“When you play pace of play like teams play now, since the 40-second shot clock and they let them go as fast as they want, it’s nothing to play 100 plays in a game,” Saban said. “Now, is that good for player safety. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you that. It seems to me like the more plays you play, the tireder you get, the more susceptible you might be to getting hurt.
“Now there’s things we could do to probably shorten a game, whether you don’t stop the clock after first downs, whether you stand over the ball for just a second and not go warp speed where the other team can’t get lined up. I don’t know what the answer to that is.”
On Tennessee coach Butch Jones:
“I think Butch Jones has done a fabulous job there. These guys had a really good team last year, they finished the season strong,” Saban said. “The only loss they have is to a top five or six team in the country and they certainly weren’t that way when he took the program over.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports