Injury Toll

Entering the weekend, most people viewed Alabama's road trip to Tuscaloosa as having a low threat for defeat, but also as the first leg in the final three games of the season triathlon that will only become more grueling with each contest.

The first part of the coming week will be pure battle damage assessment from the Mississippi State game, particularly for Alabama's offensive line, which took a huge hit by losing three-year starter JB Closner in the first quarter of the game.

"He's got a broken bone, I think it's his fibula," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said. "I'm not sure how long he's going to be out. I'm not sure what the procedure is about getting him back healthy."

Taylor Britt came in for Closner and struggled in his first significant action of the year. Britt is still an option for the Alabama staff at center if he can rebound from the performance Saturday with a good week of practice.

"I think he's capable of doing it," offensive line coach Connelly said. "Probably the biggest disappointing thing for me, and I think it's a learning experience for all of us, is that he probably didn't mentally prepare himself like we would have liked for him to. You can talk till you're blue in the face and tell the guys that you have to prepare like you're the starter because we're all one play away from being the guy and I think some of that came up today. I'm sure he will learn from it and we can get some of those other guys to learn from it."

Connelly said the door was "absolutely not" closed to taking the redshirt off of freshman Evan Cardwell.

"That's something that we're going to have to talk about," Connelly said. "(A redshirt) is not done yet. That's something myself, the offensive coordinator and the head coach have to tackle that and come up with a solution to the problem that's best for the team."

Cardwell has been practicing with the scout team on Tuesdays, then preparing with the squad for the week's game plan on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Cardwell is among the players Shula has said have been switching back and forth from scout team to regular squad because they are close to being ready.

"We've got to decide what's best for our football team to get us through this stretch run and finish it out the way we want to finish it out," Connelly said.

Starting redshirt freshman left guard Antoine Caldwell presents the next area of concern for the Bama staff. Shula, who rarely if ever overstates injuries, said of Caldwell, "He's going to be sore, for sure. He hurt his foot. I probably won't know more about him until Tuesday."

Caldwell stood on the sidelines while back-up guard Justin Moon played most of the second half. Caldwell had surgery for a torn ligament in his foot in the early portion of last season, causing him to redshirt.

If healthy, Caldwell would seem to be a viable option at center, since he spent all last season at that position, and worked at center some in spring and fall practice.

Either way, there will be at least one new player on the offensive line against LSU. If Caldwell were to also be limited against LSU, Moon or possibly Mark Sanders could step into the guard slot.

"We're a little beat up to some other guys there on the offensive line and they're going to have to step up, the new guys that are coming in," Shula said. "We're going to have to have the starters, the other weapons, Brodie and KD are just going to have to play better. You have to go win as a team each week so it's going to take the whole team next week."

Shula alluded to the injury situation being significant when he was asked a question about thinking about the BCS.

"Any thoughts of possibly thinking about (the BCS) right now are going to have to be taken up by just our focus this week on the personnel because of the injuries," he said. "We've just got to find a way to go win games."

"There's a lot of ways to win games and today was a good example of it," Shula said. "We feel like we have one of the best defenses in the country and they've played that way all year. What we did today is not going to matter next week. We have to go out there and do it again. Any time you have that kind of a defense and you feel that good about the defense you feel like you can go out there and win a football game."


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