No. 1-ranked Alabama hosts The Citadel on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Here are four key questions that should be answered:
1. Will Tua Tagovailoa start?
The last time an Alabama quarterback missed a start due to injury was in 2004, when Brodie Croyle went down early in the season, was replaced by Marc Guillon and then Spencer Pennington was promoted when Guillon was injured. Tagovailoa left the Mississippi State game after being sacked late in the third quarter. His status this week will be a topic of discussion.
2. How long will the starters play?
Alabama is the No. 1 team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the top tier of collegiate football. The Citadel plays at the Football Championship Subdivision, a level below. This one shouldn’t be competitive, and the Crimson Tide would be well-served to get a big lead and get the starters on the sideline to keep them healthy.
3. Who will emerge as a player to watch for the future?
The UA roster is loaded with talent, and a lot of backups will probably get ample opportunities in this contest. Some less familiar faces figure to see more playing time than normal, giving them the chance to show their stuff, so this could be a game where some future stars might reveal themselves.
4. Can Alabama handle the option?
Back in 2011, the Crimson Tide faced a wishbone-style option offense run by Georgia Southern and gave up 300 rushing yards. Coach Nick Saban famously said the Eagles ran through UA’s defense like something through a tin horn. The Citadel runs a similar type of attack, which should present a different kind of challenge than Alabama is used to facing.