The picture of Tua Tagovailoa being gingerly eased onto a cart, face bloodied after suffering a sack late in the second half of today’s game at Mississippi State, is a blow to college football because the Alabama quarterback is one of the game’s most dynamic players.
And this is why it matters to the Miami Dolphins and their fans:
Tagovailoa’s more severe injury today was actually a hip injury. It was so serious that the player could not walk once he was helped to his feet by trainers following a sack with with 3:10 to play in the first half. He was carted off the field and to the stadium X-Ray facility (no results at this point).
He was later transported from the stadium by ambulance to an undetermined location. Tagovailoa then boarded a helicopter back to Birmingham’s St. Vincent Medical Center where he will get an MRI and other tests.
After the game, Saban said the injury to Tagovailoa, a Saint Louis graduate, “is probably something that could be serious.”
And now, with all sensitivity to the player’s health notwithstanding, whispered questions about Tagovailoa’s durability gain volume. And actually become quite loud. And that could factor in his 2020 draft status.
Tagovailoa, you see, has an injury history. He required ankle surgery during last season that Alabama pundits believe affected his play late in the season. He required ankle surgery on the other ankle weeks ago that kept him out until last week’s loss to LSU.
And then came today’s seemingly significant injury.
Considering Tagovailoa’s relative smallish size at about 6-foot and a weight which reportedly fluctuates between 220 and 230 pounds, the quarterback going first in the draft is not a done deal.
Indeed, multiple scouts have told the Miami Herald Tagovailoa’s durability and size questions could drop him anywhere through No. 5-7 overall in the next draft’s first round. That estimate obviously increases Miami’s chances of landing Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft considering the team has won two consecutive games.
It also increases the chances the Dolphins will have to weigh whether they want Tagovailoa given the durability concerns.
The ironic thing is Tagovailoa suffered his latest injury in a game the Crimson Tide was leading 35-7 nearly the end of the half. He had completed 14 of 18 passes for 256 yards and 2 TDs.
On one touchdown he looked off the deep safety by scanning the field to the right before throwing the scoring bomb down the left sideline.
The other disturbing issue is Tagovailoa was actually playing his last series in a blowout — and some would question why he was still in the game — when he was injured.
“That was going to be his last series,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN, who broadcast the game, during a halftime interview. “We were going to do 2-minute with him just for practice. We got to block ‘em better so he doesn’t get sacked. So too bad. We were going to put Matt (Jones) in but then we said let’s put Tua in to do 2-minute with him just before the half just for practice.
“I don’t worry about players getting hurt, but certainly don’t want to see anybody getting hurt, especially him.”
ESPN reported Tagovailoa could be heard “screaming in pain” as he was going in the locker room.
Tagovailoa, a Heisman Trophy contender, had surgery on his right ankle Oct. 20, a day after he was injured in the Crimson Tide’s 35-13 victory over Tennessee.
Surgeons performed a “tightrope” procedure on his right ankle, in which they drill a hole from his fibula into the tibia and cast three tightropes through the bone and cinch it down to tighten it. The same procedure was performed on Tagovailoa’s left ankle following the SEC Championship Game last season.