Tua Tagovailoa sustained a high ankle sprain during the SEC championship game against Georgia. Tagovailoa’s status for the Orange Bowl was once in doubt, but Tagovailoa is expected to play against Oklahoma.
Tagovailoa sustained the injury in the fourth quarter against Georgia after Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams stepped on his ankle as the above video shows. According to ESPN, Tagovaioa initially hurt his ankle on the fourth play of the SEC title game then re-injured it when Williams stepped on the same ankle.
Tagovailoa underwent surgery shortly after the SEC title game and had metal wires inserted into his ankle during the procedure. Dr. Troy Watson of Desert Orthopedic in Las Vegas spoke with AL.com about the type of procedure Tagovailoa underwent.
Dr. Watson said the use of surgery has been somewhat controversial in the medical community. It’s absolutely necessary in the high-grade sprains when there is instability but there’s a gray area, he said, in the middle tier of injuries.
“It’s not clear cut,” he said. “We really struggle to figure out the players that need surgery versus those who don’t. When it’s the gray zone or the Grade 2 injuries, those are the ones that can be really difficult to make that decision and pull the trigger with surgery or put the kid in a cast…But if it’s me and I’m going to be playing in the national championship game. I’m probably going to take the risk. If it fails and I can’t go and reinjure myself, I have the whole offseason to get it better.”
Tua Tagovailoa Described His Status as “80 to 85 Percent” in the Days Leading Up to the Orange Bowl
ESPN reported that Tagovailoa will be receiving treatment multiple times on gameday. Earlier in the week, Tagovailoa described his status as “80 to 85 percent.”
“I’m getting treatment at this moment,” Tagovailoa told The Washington Post. “It’s been a lot better. If I could grade from a scale of 0 to 100, I would say it’s at 80 to 85 percent…You’ve got to go into [it] with the mind-set you want to get better right away,” he said, “and that’s how I took it.”
The Alabama coaching staff and Tagovailoa’s teammates have all remarked about the quarterback’s quick recovery. Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley spoke about the Crimson Tide’s gameplan considering Tagovailoa’s injury.
“We don’t want to start off and have him take another big shot and get rolled up, but throughout the course of the game, you gotta do what you gotta do when you’re playing playoff football,” Locksley explained to ESPN. “You’ve got to call the game and do the things necessary to win.”
If Tagovailoa reinjures his ankle against Oklahoma, Jalen Hurts would take over at quarterback just as he did against Georgia. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was a bit vague about whether Tagovailoa would play if he was not 100 percent at kickoff.
“Look, I’m not really a medical expert,” Saban said per Saturday Down South. “The medical staff makes the decision about whether a guy is capable of playing and going out there and doing his job, and then I think the player has to sort of have input on that, as well. In other words, medical staff can say he’s fine, but if the player doesn’t think he’s fine, then he’s not fine.