“Speedy” may be the most important word as Alabama enters the toughest part of its schedule. Last year, Tagovailoa had the procedure after the Dec. 1 SEC title game and returned to play 28 days later in the Orange Bowl, although he was not at full strength.
“What we do is we drill a hole from the fibula into the tibia and cast these tightropes through the bone and sync it down and tighten it,” Norman Waldrop, part of the surgical team that performed Tagovailoa’s surgery in 2018, told ESPN last year. “What these tightropes do are stabilize the ankle. It holds that little bone in its home. It holds it still and stable enough that the bones don’t want to spread apart.”
The nation’s No. 1 team, Alabama hosts Arkansas on Saturday, then has a week off before it hosts No. 2 LSU. The initial plan called for Tagovailoa to be ready for that Nov. 9 game, although that may be unlikely. “I’ll be back for LSU,” he told his teammates, linebacker Terrell Lewis said (via AL.com).
“A two-week recovery time is about as fast as I’ve heard of anybody trying to get back on the field with a true high ankle injury,” orthopedic surgeon William McGarvey told AL.com in December.
Tagovailoa walked off the field with a slight limp after rolling his right ankle when he was sacked in the second quarter of Alabama’s 35-13 victory over Tennessee. He remained in the game and completed a five-yard pass to Brian Robinson Jr. before leaving.
Against the Volunteers, Mac Jones stepped in for Tagovailoa, who completed 11 of 12 passes for 155 yards with an interception. Jones completed 6 of 11 attempts for 72 yards.
“Mac did some good things, and we think Mac is capable,” Saban said. “So we have a lot of confidence in Mac.”