Time is fluid. Waiting in the dentist’s office can make an hour last forever. The last minute of a game can seem to go on and on. But nothing makes time go faster than an injury.
There’s never enough time for rehab and treatment of injuries, and right up to kickoff, medical staffs are working to get players to where they can safely go.
There’s a ton of big games around the conference this week and there’s been a lot of work in the training rooms to make those contests be decided on the field. Let’s take a look.
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
There will be as many scouts as fans, it seems, when Fournette lines up against Alabama’s vaunted defense. Given how many Tide players are expected to go in the top rounds of the NFL draft this spring, it’s the best test that Fournette will have.
One thing many will be watching is how his ankle has healed. It’s still noted as an issue, but he’s showed no real deficits since returning to the starting lineup. He has burst, power, speed, and all of the necessary cuts. Fournette’s durability remains the last real question for scouts. My biggest question is whether Alabama has an answer for him.
Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
Nick Saban has depth at every position, but it’s come in very handy at receiver. The Crimson Tide have lost receiver after receiver this season and just swapped in one for another, let the injured players heal, and kept winning. Ridley is titularly the No. 1, but the team has spread the ball around, sometimes out of necessity as much as role.
Ridley missed practice this week and while the team hasn’t commented officially, he was seen with a knee wrap. Sources could not confirm the specifics of the injury, but did tell me he’s a true game-time decision. Alabama’s game plan does not hinge on his availability.
Auburn WR Tony Stevens
Getting the running game healthy really has helped Auburn, so the Tigers would like to get their passing game all the way back, too. Stevens missed last week’s game at Ole Miss with an undisclosed ailment and there’s questions about his availability this week.
Auburn’s soft remaining schedule could allow Auburn to disguise some things, but the team would love to have Stevens back on Saturday against Vanderbilt to set up for an Iron Bowl that could decide a lot of things beyond just bragging rights. Look for Stevens in warm-ups.
Arkansas QB Austin Allen
The off week came at just the right time for Allen and for Arkansas. If the Razorbacks had to suit up last weekend, Ty Storey would have had to go under center. As it is, the Razorbacks feel like Allen has enough mobility and stability in the knee to start, but they’ll be watching him closely.
Allen will be wearing a brace and Florida will blitz him early to test the knee. In practice, sources tell me that Allen is still struggling with quick lateral movements, so the Razorbacks may go with quicker passes, plus screens and shovels to slow the rush. Allen should be fine, but there’s ways to test him.