Watch out, Missouri. Alabama looks to be getting a little bit healthier for this weekend’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
While meeting with the media Wednesday night, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said linebacker Denzel Devall is questionable for the SEC championship game, but a handful of others should be available. Left tackle Cam Robinson, wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, and tight end Brian Vogler all have been practicing this week and will be ready to play if called upon Saturday.
Robinson, a starter on the offensive line, had a high-ankle sprain in late October that kept him out of a few games for the Tide. Vogler and Stewart each suffered stretched knee ligaments, as it was reported leading up to last week’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.
“With all these guys, we’ll have to evaluate how they progress this week, how they respond to the activity that they’ve done,” Saban said, per Al.com. “Some of them might even … we’ll have to decide before the game. But most of the time when guys practice … as long as they don’t have a setback, chances are they’ll be able to contribute in the game.”
Alabama is ranked on top of the latest College Football Playoff rankings. A win against Missouri would pretty much guarantee the Crimson Tide a spot in the four-team playoff. A loss could put Alabama in jeopardy of making the playoff. Having all hands on deck certainly would be a nice luxury with so much on the line.
Alabama could very well head into Saturday’s Iron Bowl at less than full strength in its passing game*.
In what was essentially a glorified scrimmage last Saturday, tight end Brian Vogler and receiver ArDarius Stewart sustained what head coach Nick Saban described as stretched knee ligaments in the romp over FCS-level Western Carolina. Neither player has practiced this week, leading Saban to continue to call the duo “very questionable” for Saturday evening’s game against Auburn.
Because neither has practiced, it would seem highly doubtful either will be available.
Stewart has started the past two games and has 12 receptions for 149 yards on the season. Nine of those receptions have come in the last five games.
While Vogler has started nine games this season, he has just three receptions for 13 yards as his forte is blocking. One of those catches, though, was a touchdown in the Week 3 win over Southern Miss.
(*With Amari Cooper on the field, they’re still at, what, 99 percent?)
With the Iron Bowl this week and a spot in the SEC Championship Game and possibly another in the College Football Playoff on the line, having as healthy a starting lien-up as possible is key for Alabama. A cupcake of a game against Western Carolina proved to be a bit more bruising than expected, and starting tight end Brian Vogler is said to be questionable for the Auburn game this week.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban said Vogler is considered questionable for this weekend’s Iron Bowl, but Saban suggested that could change as the week goes on with practices. Saban also noted freshman wide receiver ArDarius Stewart is also questionable for the Auburn game. Both players reportedly left Saturday afternoon’s win with strained knee ligaments.
“We’ll see how they progress throughout the week, but they would be listed as questionable for the game right now, not that everyone will practice today,” Saban said Monday, per Al.com. “As the week progresses, we’re hopeful that everybody will respond and be able to get back and contribute in the game.”
Vogler and O.J. Howard have split top tight end duties this season, and Howard has been the more productive of the two in the receiving game. Howard is third on the team with 206 receiving yards, although Vogler brings some solid blocking skills to the field whenever he is on the field.
Stewart has caught 12 passes for 149 games while appearing in 11 games this season.
Mississippi State is giving Alabama a good game so far in a battle of defenses, but the Bulldogs trail the top-ranked Crimson Tide at the half 10-0.
AJ McCaron threw a rare interception in the second quarter but made up for his mistake once he got the football back. Late in the first half McCarron turned a slim 3-0 lead in to a double-digit lead with a touchdown pass to Brian Vogler. TJ Yeldon gave the late first half touchdown drive some life by breaking one of just three plays to go for over 10 yards in the first half for Alabama.
Mississippi State had a 73-yard drive in the second quarter that drove all the way down inside the five-yard line, but a crucial penalty on third down was accepted to push the Bulldogs back and they were unable to pick up any points when a fourth down field goal attempt by Evan Sobiesk flew right of the goal posts. That was as close as Mississippi State has been to sniffing any points so far tonight, but the defense has really come through to keep them in the game.
A win by Alabama will clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game. Mississippi State can do whatever they want on defense but unless their offense can put any points on the scoreboard this game may already be over. It was not the best showing for Alabama so far, but we will see what adjustments get made at halftime. Expect Nick Saban to find what needs to be done.