STARKVILLE, M.S. — Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was carted off the field after being dragged down by two Mississippi State defenders, a tackle that left him favoring his right leg and hip.
Fourth-ranked Alabama was leading 35-7 with 3:01 left in the first half when Tagovailoa, who had surgery on a sprained right ankle nearly a month ago, was injured. Mac Jones replaced Tagovailoa, who did not join the team on the sideline after halftime.
The latest injury appeared to be different from the ankle sprain. The hard hit knocked off Tagovailoa’s helmet and left him with a bloody nose.
“That was going to be his last series,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN at the end of the first half. “We were going to put Mac in and we said ‘Let’s put Tua in before the half for two-minute (drill) just for practice.”
Tagovailoa had surgery on his ankle after injuring it against Tennessee on Oct. 19. That kept him out of the second half against Tennessee and the entire Arkansas game the next week. Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC, No. 4 CFP) had a week off, Tagovailoa played last week in a loss to LSU.
The junior scrambled toward the sideline and was grabbed by two Mississippi State players, who landed on top of him. He was helped off the ground by medical staff, avoiding putting weight on his right leg.
Tagovailoa was the Heisman Trophy runner-up last year and having another stellar season. He came into the game second in the nation in passer rating at 204.86. With two more touchdown passes against Mississippi State, Tagovailoa has 33 on the season along with 2,840 yards passing.
He is also expected to be one of the top picks in the next NFL draft.