TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team was without three starters at the end of the game, with all three injuries occurring in the fourth quarter of the Crimson Tide's 50-17 victory over The Citadel.
The most serious injury was to senior running back Damien Harris, who landed hard on his head at the end of a 73-yard run early in the fourth quarter. He’s described as having a mild concussion, but stayed down for a significant amount of time while the medical staff checked his neck.
Harris eventually got up, tried to fire up the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium and hugged some teammates while leaving the field. Before he could get to the medical tent he pumped his arm when Alabama scored on the subsequent play, a 7-yard touchdown catch by sophomore wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
A trainer was with Harris the whole time, and had the running back by the back of his shirt until he sat down in the medical tent. After a quick stay he headed off to the locker room.
Harris leads Alabama's running backs with 678 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Shortly after that, junior safety Deionte Thompson (bruised knee) went to the medical tent appearing to be in a lot of pain. A few minutes later he was back on the sideline and appeared ready to play again, but coaches decided to keep him out.
“He’s good,” sophomore safety Xavier McKinney said. “I talked to him. I think he just got cut-blocked, but he’s fine.”
Nick Saban didn't say much about the injury, but did about cut-blocking in general.
“Me personally, I know that these people do a really good job of executing what they do," he said. "I’m a person who really doesn’t believe in cut-blocking and I think that’s a dangerous play in football. That offense is based on a lot of cut-blocking, which is not against the rules so no one’s doing anything wrong, but I certainly wish that we would change some of the rules for player safety.”
Sophomore right guard Alex Leatherwood (ankle) left early for the locker room.
“We think he’ll be ok,” Saban said.
Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (sprained knee) played without his knee brace and didn’t appear to have any problems or setbacks.
“I felt a lot better,” he said. “I think the brace sort of restricted movement for me. It kind of tightened up a lot of things, my calf and my hamstring. A lot of stretching went into this week.”
Tagovailoa was 18-for-22 for 340 yards and three touchdowns, plus had four carries for 37 yards and a rushing touchdown.
When asked if he felt 100 percent, Tagovailoa dodged the question like a pass-rusher: “That’s hard for me to say.”
Junior Jalen Hurts (ankle) played briefly in the fourth quarter, and on the first play ran a play-action bootleg. He was 3-for-4 for 31 yards and one touchdown.
“We wanted to play Jalen somewhere between 10 and 15 plays in the game because he was ready to play – at some point of the game, with the good players – so hopefully not having played in a few weeks we could get some of the rust off. He did a good job and I think that’ll be important for him coming back.”