What Christopher Allen's foot fracture means for Alabama football

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football dominated in its opener with few blemishes, but a significant first-half injury to Christopher Allen loomed over the day. 

Coach Nick Saban said Monday that Allen likely will miss the rest of the season with a foot fracture that will require surgery. 

Even though Saban didn't completely shut the door of Allen returning for the season, it doesn't seem as if Allen will be back anytime soon. 

Allen already had to miss an entire season in 2018 with a knee injury. 

After leading the SEC with 13 tackles for loss in 2020, Allen looked primed to have another great season. He's explosive, fast and a valuable piece to have coming off the edge, creating havoc opposite Will Anderson. 

Just in his limited time against Miami, Allen managed a sack, forced a fumble and finished with three total tackles.  

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Saban called Allen a fantastic player Saturday. 

"He's a really good pass rusher," Saban said. "And really was a luxury to have him and Will on the edges as outside backers." 

That duo could have been fantastic again this season, especially as Anderson continues to grow in his sophomore season.

But the loss of Allen shouldn't unravel the defense. Not with the ridiculous amount of talent Alabama has. 

Thanks to top-notch recruiting, Alabama seems to always have elite talent waiting in the wings. Just look at how the new offense performed Saturday: Most of that group didn't start in 2020 and still put up 44 points against a ranked team in its first game action together. 

The edge rusher spot also has plenty of young talent. 

Sophomore Drew Sanders? A five-star prospect. Sophomore Chris Braswell? Five star. Freshman Dallas Turner? Five star. 

"It was very tough to lose (Allen), unfortunately," defensive back Brian Branch said. "But moving forward, we have very good depth at the linebacker position, and I think everybody who comes in is going to bring that same intensity that Chris did and will play very good." 

None has the experience of Allen; they're younger players, so there could be some growing pains. But whether its Sanders, Braswell, Turner or someone else, no one has to be the hero. 

Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA;  Alabama linebacker Drew Sanders (20) chases down Miami wide receiver Key'Shawn Smith (5) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Alabama defeated Miami 44-13. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

The sheer amount of talent and experience Alabama has across its defense allows each player to focus on his job and his job alone. 

Plus, with Will Anderson being one of the best players on the team, opposing offenses are going to focus on slowing him down. That could lead to some prime opportunities for the young outside linebackers opposite him. 

Sanders was the first to play once Allen left the game in the first half Saturday. He finished with six total tackles. 

"Now he's going to have the chance to step up and start," Saban said Monday, "although we've kind of rotated the three of those guys at outside linebacker all as starters." 

Saban also mentioned Turner on Saturday as a guy who is going to get an opportunity. Braswell probably will see more time, too. He had a chance to play some in the outside linebacker rotation Saturday. 

Alabama will miss having Allen, and it might take some time to fill that void as these young players gain experience and grow. 

But a dominant year for the Crimson Tide defense still remains a legitimate possibility. 

Contact Nick Kelly: nkelly@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly