Nov. 16, 2017
Are Alabama's Extensive Injuries Catching Up to them?
Yes, they're 10-0 and back to #1 in the country, but can Alabama continue to win with their injury list growing each game?
Here's two reasons why they can, and two reasons they can't.
This is the Alabama injury report heading into their 11th game of the season and last home game of the 2017 season.
Not included on this injury report is redshirt junior offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher who suffered a high ankle sprain in the win at Mississippi State. Pierschbacher has been a veteran leader on this relatively young offensive line and without him in the lineup, the pass block could struggle.
Two Reasons Alabama can continue to win despite injuries
1.) Jalen Hurts and the offense are healthy and clicking
Although the loss to Pierschbacher is significant, this Alabama offense has been playing very consistent football. Not just in the last couple of months, but all season.
This season quarterback Jalen Hurts has been very precise with his throws and rather conservative when picking and choosing targets.
The sophomore has just one interception this season and the offense as a whole is averaging .5 turnovers per game.
Hurts has totaled 11 touchdowns through the air and 8 on the ground while totaling over 2,000 yards. Yes, he's still an underclassmen and he is playing like a three year veteran.
Although they only managed 31 points in the win over State, the offense racked up the yardage with 444 total (242 passing, 202 rushing). The only problems over the course of the game was the discrepancy in the time of possession with the Bulldogs holding the ball for just shy of 39 minutes.
If Calvin Ridley can manage 171 yards receiving again, and role players like Cam Sims, DeVonta Smith, and Jerry Jeudy continue to show up, good things will happen for the Bama offense.
2.) The secondary is stout. Still
Although Alabama has extensive injuries in the linebacking core and on the D-line, the secondary is healthy. And they are still playing well. State QB Nick Fitzgerald managed just 158 passing yards on 13 of 24 passing and the secondary kept the Tide in the game.
An injured Minkah Fitzpatrick is still one of the best DB's in the country, and with Ronnie Harrison lurking at the safety position, it will be very difficult for team's to throw down the field on this team.
If Levi Wallace, Anthony, Averett, and Tony Brown can keep tabs on big playmakers, the Crimson Tide should just be wary of mobile quarterbacks and the read option.
Two Reasons Alabama will struggle due to injuries
1.) The front seven is weak
Like I said above, the D-line is still solid, it's the linebacking core that is really slacking for the Tide right now.
With senior leader Shaun Dion Hamilton out for the season, along with some of the best young talent on the defensive side in Mack Wilson and Christian Miller, this Alabama defense will have a tough time stopping running plays.
Which doesn't bode well for them when they play at Auburn in a couple weeks.
Senior Rashaan Evans is now the leader of the unit and will need to step up big the rest of this season. He did Saturday, making 9 tackles, registering 1 sack, while also supplying 2.5 tackles for loss.
It'll be Evans and junior Keith Holcombe who are tasked with clogging the middle of the formation against the run from here on out.
2.) Losing four players in one position is very difficult to overcome
I don't care if you're the New England Patriots, the Cleveland Cavaliers, or the Houston Astros, if you lose three or four players to season ending injuries in one position, it is incredibly difficult to overcome.
That is what Alabama are having to deal with right now. As you can see from the chart showing the injuries above, almost all the names on there are defensive players. More specifically, middle linebackers.
Without veteran leadership, or young playmakers in the middle. this team will struggle. It was evident in Saturday night's game. Mississippi State ran the ball pretty well on a Bama defense that is known for stopping the run.
All three of their touchdowns came on the ground, and QB Nick Fitzgerald totaled 66 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown.
While the defense didn't give up big runs, they were worn down throughout the game as State ran the ball 49 times for an average of 3.5 yards per carry.
I still think Alabama can make a run at the national championship, but they will have some tough games in the next month they need to win if they are to reach that game for the third straight season.