For the remainder of the season, Alabama will likely not have one of their most experienced defensive linemen.
Head coach Nick Saban was asked if there was a chance that Justin Eboigbe could return this season in the weekly SEC coaches weekly teleconference.
“I don’t think so,” replied Saban. “I think that he had a procedure done that would enhance his opportunity to be able to play in the future, but I don’t think that that’s going to come this season.”
In the first four games of the season, Eboigbe recorded 11 tackles and two quarterback hurries before he was sidelined with a neck injury. Having only played in four games this season, the senior defensive lineman could use a redshirt year and come back next season if he chooses to.
In the absence of Eboigbe, Alabama has relied on Jaheim Oatis, Tim Smith, D.J. Dale and Byron Young as its starting rotation of defensive linemen. With both Dale and Oatis out last week's game with injuries, Alabama had to get creative and was forced to play some new faces. Some of the younger defensive linemen, Damon Payne, Jamil Burroughs and Jah-Marien Latham, saw increased snaps against Mississippi State. In addition to playing some of the younger guys, Saban had to improvise with a smaller defensive line package that had outside linebackers Will Anderson, Jr. and Chris Braswell playing on the line.
“We really only had four defensive linemen in the game,” Saban said. “The most we ever played with was two, sometimes only one and played a whole bunch of ‘backers. So you get a little small, which can affect your ability to stop the run. But you’ve gotta scheme it the best you can with the guys that you’ve got. And hopefully, we’ll get some of these guys back. But it’s also a good experience for those guys, and they’ll be more ready to play the next time.”
Alabama is off this weekend and will have a week to recover from injuries before they battle SEC West rival LSU on November 5.
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