Nick Saban updates status of WR Jaylen Waddle, other injured Alabama players before championship game vs. Ohio State
During his final press conference in the run up to Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship game Alabama head coach Nick Saban updated the sporting world on a few of the Crimson Tide’s injured players.
Jaylen Waddle, the superstar, Heisman Trophy candidate wide receiver who suffered a fractured ankle in a game at Tennessee about eight weeks ago, only to be replaced in the lineup by Devonta Smith, a player who proceeded to win the Heisman Trophy for himself, is questionable for the game, according to Saban.
It arrived as a shock early in the week when Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian revealed that Waddle was practicing at all. It had been presumed the junior wideout would spend the rest of the year rehabbing the injury and preparing for the NFL Draft. Whether or not he’ll get any snaps against Ohio State in the title game sounds highly questionable.
“He has been able to practice to some degree,” said Saban of Waddle. “I think the biggest challenge is can he sustain in the game, and it’ll be a game-time decision as to whether he thinks he can play and go out there and do his job well enough to contribute to the team, and we won’t know that until we get out there after pregame warmup.”
Beyond Waddle, freshman defensive back Malachi Moore was pronounced likely out of the title tilt, but LaBryan Ray, a junior defensive end, was described as “more probable” by the big chief, Saban.
“Malachi Moore is probably still very questionable for the game,” said the coach. “LaBryan Ray is probably a little bit more probable. He’s been able to practice this week, and hopefully we’ll get some contribution from him.”
Moore had started the first 11 games for the Crimson Tide and has been replaced by Brian Branch, another freshman defensive back. Ray has played in six games, starting three, and has notched 11 tackles, a half sack, and one quarterback hurry.
Alabama’s defense would love to have every able body on deck to thwart the Buckeyes aggressive and potent offensive attack, but the same can be said of Ohio State’s defense in their task, which is slowing down and finding ways to cost the Crimson Tide’s prolific offense points across multiple possessions. Whichever side does it better is the likely winner.
The national championship kicks off 8:00 pm ET Monday, Jan. 11 from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. The game will be broadcast in various formats across ESPN’s imprint of networks.