You’ll often hear that you can throw out the rankings when it comes to rivalry games like the Iron Bowl. That may be true, but you can’t do that with injuries. The players that are available are those that can make plays, so with both teams coming off warmup games last week, how healthy are Alabama and Auburn coming into their key matchup? Let’s take a look.
What will Alabama get from Bo Scarbrough?
At 11-0 and on its way to the SEC title game (and a likely College Football Playoff berth), Alabama has been relatively healthy this season. The Tide have had some minor injuries at wide receiver, but they had the depth to not be bothered by them. The same is true at running back, though Bama still has one key player whose availability is a bit of a question.
Bo Scarbrough dressed, warmed up, and reportedly was cleared to play against Chattanooga after recovering from a mild knee sprain, but he did not get in the game. This is likely a football decision; Scarbrough simply wasn’t needed with the depth available, so it was a smarter play to give him another week’s rest and not risk any setbacks.
This does raise the question of Scarbrough’s effectiveness. The assumption is that given the facts we know about Scarbrough’s injury and the type of brace he was wearing, he appears to have a mild MCL sprain. That could cost him some lateral mobility, and, as with any brace, he’ll have to get used to wearing the brace. It’s quite likely that Scarbrough can use the extra days of practice to get healthier and more functional, which would put him in good position to play his normal role as the RB2. Joshua Jacobs, the freshman, has shown that he’s an able fill-in if Scarborough is not ready or not effective.
The two key injuries at Auburn
On the Auburn side, the big worry is whether bruising runner Kamryn Pettway will be available and near 100 percent. Pettway has been the power part of a role split with Kerryon Johnson this season, and it’s an effective system. Both backs have been banged up a bit, Johnson with a mild ankle sprain and Pettway missing a couple weeks with a lingering quadriceps issue that caused a noticeable limp a few weeks back. The Tigers are hopeful he can play against Alabama.
Pettway’s power is hobbled by the injury and keeps him from getting a strong push. There haven’t been many backs of any type that have had success against Alabama’s defensive front this season, including Leonard Fournette, who is roughly the same size as Pettway, but has more burst. Any remaining issue with Pettway’s quad is going to be a big issue.
The Tigers are also unclear on whether they’ll get Sean White back at quarterback against Alabama. White’s shoulder made him ineffective against Georgia, but two weeks of rest and treatment should help with that. However, shoulder injuries have a way of being quickly exacerbated by hits, so if White goes, Auburn’s line will have to focus on keeping him upright. If not, Jeremy Johnson should keep his helmet handy.
Alabama and Auburn look forward to this game all year long, and for both teams, it means a lot in how they’ll view their seasons. The same is true for the medical staffs, which have been working hard to make sure that injuries don’t derail the hard work. We’ll see if it pays off this week, as the game should be decided on the field and not in the training room.