Texas Football: Impact Tua Tagovailoa season-ending injury has on Horns

The wide-reaching impact that the hip injury to Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa had last weekend could stem as far as the Texas football program.

The entire college football landscape watched in agony on Nov. 16 as the Alabama Crimson Tide star junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa dislocated his hip and fractured the posterior wall in a win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs on the road at Davis Wade Stadium. There was reaction and emotions that even came about from the world of Texas football fans, players, and the media from this nasty injury to Tua over the weekend.

Moreover, this injury to Tagovailoa will cause him to miss the rest of the 2019 season and will cause a lengthy rehab process after he gets surgery in Houston, TX, on Nov. 18. The status updates will continued to be monitored as Tua goes through this hip surgery.

A former linebacker from the Texas Longhorns football program, and current ESPN college football media personality Emmanuel Acho, shared a similar take to a lot of other analysts in the media. He appears to encourage this idea of “load management”, or at least taking Tua out of the game when Alabama was up by more than three possessions on Mississippi State before halftime.

Former Texas quarterback Chris Simms also gave his reaction to these circumstances now surrounding Tua’s injury over the weekend.

The argument that seems to be coming about frequently for taking Tagovailoa out of the game by this point in the first half is that head coach Nick Saban had him listed as a gametime decision and also looked to have backup quarterback Mac Jones ready to go. With the Crimson Tide ahead by as many points as they were against Mississippi State, the common school of thought is that Mac should’ve already had the reigns for the Alabama offense.

However, keeping Tua in before halftime wasn’t the biggest deal and/or the most egregious coaching error in the world. In fact, Alabama coming off their loss two weeks ago to the SEC foe LSU Tigers showed that they needed to run up the score on Mississippi State to gain more “style points” in the eyes of the selection committee.

But the impact that this carries beyond the Alabama football program is enormous. Tua might decide to take his talents to the 2020 NFL Draft, but his stock had to drop quite a bit. Even if he decides to come back to Tuscaloosa for another year, he might not be ready to go at the outset of the 2020 regular season.

Another point this debacle also brings up is the new idea of load management, that is more common in college basketball and the NBA than it is in college football or the NFL. But a player that is having recurring injury issues like Tagovailoa could benefit from more rest than he got.

The connection between Tua and the junior Longhorns star quarterback Sam Ehlinger is evident. Ehlinger traditionally battled injury problems just due to how much he’s used as a bulldozing style runner up the middle. Head Texas football coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck like to use Ehlinger in the quarterback power to run between the tackles in short-yardage or goal line situations.

Last season, Ehlinger had a shoulder sprain that he originally suffered against the Baylor Bears in a mid-October home game. That seemed to hamper him down the stretch and he re-injured his shoulder in an eventual November home win over the Iowa State Cyclones. Ehlinger didn’t get enough rest between those two games to come back at full strength.

Moreover, this might be the first football season that Ehlinger makes it all the way through healthy since his freshman year of high school (knock on wood of course). Fatigue and law of averages can catch up with running quarterbacks (especially ones with the power and truck-stick happy running styles of Ehlinger) in due time.

The solution here could be for Herman and the Longhorns to give Ehlinger more rest when they’re up big than they usually do. Redshirt freshman quarterback Casey Thompson could also benefit from the game action before he starts to battle to take the reigns of the Texas offense once Ehlinger’s time on the Forty Acres is over.

All in all, I am a complete supporter of player safety, especially when it comes to recurring injury issues like Ehlinger has. Upper-body injuries and concussions seem to be a hurdle for Ehlinger year in and year out.

Ehlinger being the warrior that he is that tries to take this Longhorns team on his back each passing Saturday is awesome for this entire fan base. He’s truly become the star that Longhorns fans waited for since Colt McCoy left the Forty Acres after the 2009 campaign.

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But there could be a shifting trend with load management for college football’s top stars, which would surely be something that could impact Ehlinger and the Longhorns moving forward. This was a horrible injury to see a fellow star quarterback like Tua undergo, and we hope for the best for a speedy recovery for him.

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