The Alabama Crimson Tide is back at the top, reclaiming the No. 1 ranking once again as it prepares to host the Texas A&M Aggies in a primetime matchup Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
But the lingering question surrounding the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) is the status of starting quarterback Bryce Young.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner suffered what Alabama coach Nick Saban described as a sprained right shoulder in the second quarter of the Crimson Tide’s 49-26 win at Arkansas last week.
Saban said the injury isn’t a long-term concern.
“We’ll just have to evaluate it day-to-day,” Saban said during his press conference on Monday. “I can’t tell you if that’s going to be today, tomorrow or the next day.”
During preparation, Saban is attempting to veer the conversation around the team back to what and not who, telling his team “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We are going to get everybody’s best game.”
Young, who completed 7 of 13 passes for 173 yards, one touchdown and one interception last week, hurt himself on a run toward the sideline when he landed awkwardly. Tide backup Jalen Milroe sparked Alabama with a 77-yard run to set up a momentum-swinging touchdown.
Milroe went 4 for 9 passing for 65 yards and one touchdown, and ran for 91 yards on six carries.
Saban praised his offensive line for helping Alabama amass 555 total yards including 317 yards rushing.
“I think you’re talking about a (Arkansas) team that led the league in sacks,” Saban said. “They did a great job in pass protection, too, against some pretty good pass rushers and a pretty good pressure scheme.”
It might be a good time for both teams to discuss pass protection with Young ailing, considering he was sacked four times in the 2021 loss to Texas A&M.
The Aggies (3-2, 1-1 SEC), who fell from the Top 25 following a disappointing 42-24 loss at Mississippi State last week, can reappear in the rankings on Sunday.
All it would take for Texas A&M is replicated what they accomplished a year ago when they snapped an eight-game losing streak to Alabama with a 41-38 win at home.
Alabama leads the all-time series 11-3 and last lost to Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa in 2012.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher dismissed the notions of any lingering feud between him and Saban stemming from comments Saban made back in May about how the Aggies “bought every player” they recruited with name, image and likeness funds.
Fisher was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU from 2000-2004 under Saban and part of a national championship team in 2003.
“That’s over with,” Fisher said. “He and I are in great shape. We’re great things and we’ve moved on. We’re moved on. We’re in good shape, we’re moved on.”
Fisher turned his attention on getting his team right after committing four turnovers, including three inside the red zone last week. The Aggies rank 98th nationally in turnover margin (-3) and 113th in sacks with only six in five games.
Devin Achane continues to be the Aggies’ top offensive playmaker with 466 yards and three touchdowns on 81 carries.
The season has been very uneven for A&M with wins over ranked opponents — Miami and Arkansas — and losses to unranked Appalachian State and the Bulldogs.
But last season, Texas A&M was also coming off a loss to Mississippi State when it rebounded with its win over Alabama, which started a four-game winning streak.
“You live off your experiences, but at the time, we went out the next week and had tremendous practices, and prepared well and went and played well,” Fisher said. “Those are the things I keep going back to right now.”
–Field Level Media