/Tagovailoa (knee) exits early, says he’s ‘fine’

Tagovailoa (knee) exits early, says he’s ‘fine’

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa exited Saturday’s 58-21 win over Tennessee early in the third quarter after taking a hit, but coach Nick Saban said Tagovailoa was fine and could have gone back into the game if the No. 1 Crimson Tide had needed him.

“He’s fine and was running around after the game,” Saban told ESPN. “We were about ready to take him out anyway. He’s had the (strained right knee) for two weeks now, but moved around a lot better in practice this week and it was obvious he had a lot more confidence in it.”

Alabama has an open date next week before traveling to No. 5 LSU on Nov. 3.

“It will be good for Tua and good for the team because we’re going to have to keep improving,” Saban said.

Tagovailoa initially injured his knee two weeks ago against Arkansas, but several people within the Alabama program told ESPN that he was “night and day better” this past week in practice than he was right after hurting it against the Hogs.

Tagovailoa threw four touchdown passes in the win over the Vols, the final one a 41-yarder to Henry Ruggs III with 12:53 left in the third quarter. On that play, Tagovailoa was hit by Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli and was slow to get up before jogging to the sideline.

“He stepped on my leg, and my knee just kind of buckled. That was it. Other than that, I was fine,” said Tagovailoa, who finished 19-of-29 for 306 yards against the Vols and has accounted for 27 total touchdowns and no interceptions this season despite not having taken a snap in the fourth quarter.

Tagovailoa threw touchdown passes to four different players on Saturday, as Alabama’s 58 points were the most scored against Tennessee by any team in Neyland Stadium history.

“Things are so much more fun when you don’t only have one person to go to, when you have guys at running back that can make plays for you as well,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s just a lot of fun out here.”