By Carey Reeder
Special to The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama coach Nick Saban stood at the podium following Alabama’s 46-41 lose to LSU and was not shy in reaping the praise for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s choice to play and his performance.

“I think he was a 100 percent, but I didn’t think his mobility was a 100 percent.” Saban said about the junior’s health coming into the game. “I think he was a warrior in what he did for us, missing practice over the last few weeks he may not have been as sharp.”

When the Alabama players entered the room for their media availability Tagovailoa was not among them. If he was a 100 percent coming into Saturday he certainly is not following the game. He was seen limping off the field after a quick hug and greeting with LSU’s Grant Delpit and Kristian Fulton. The decision for Tagovailoa to play was made by the medical staff and himself. Listed as a game-time decision in the week leading up; it was pretty clear he would play.

“He looked fine,” Alabama running back Najee Harris said. “Tua played well, he wasn’t hurting.”

Any team in the country would take 418 yards and four touchdowns out of their quarterback. However, a 52.5 percent completion rate, Tagovailoa’s lowest of the season, was the setback of his performance.

On the first play in the second quarter, DeVonta Smith ran a comeback route and forced the LSU defender to slip. Wide open after the route, Tagovailoa overthrew Smith and missed what would have been a huge gain, if not a touchdown.

Uncharacteristic throws like that littered the first half and it culminated with 26 seconds left in the half. After an LSU scoring drive put the Tigers up 26-13, Tagovailoa threw an interception, his third in three games, to LSU’s Patrick Queen that set up another quick score to push the deficit to 32-13 at the break.

“He came out and competed, he made mistakes but we made mistakes as an offense,” receiver Henry Ruggs III said. “We need to take advantage of the opportunity we have to correct those mistakes.”

Tagovailoa’s health will be in question for the next week and with a possible No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft at stake next summer, the decision to play against Mississippi State, Western Carolina and Auburn may not be as easy for the quarterback.

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