Alabama Football: What Star LB C.J. Mosley's Injury Could Mean for the Tide

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IISeptember 25, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 3:  Linebacker C.J. Mosley #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game with the Kent State Golden Flashes on September 3, 2011 at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Alabama defeated Kent State 48-7.  (Photo by Greg McWilliams/Getty Images)
Greg McWilliams/Getty Images

Alabama's star coverage linebacker, C.J. Mosley, was injured in the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks and the severity of the injury still remains uncertain.   

The injury happened while tackling the Hogs over-sized 6'3", 230-pound running back, Ronnie Wingo, Jr. 

Mosley made a name for himself in 2010 when he made it into Nick Saban's regular middle linebacker rotation as a true freshman.  He finished the year third on the team in total tackles with 67, only two less than Dont'a Hightower. 

Mosley's real strength is something that Alabama's vaunted linebacker corps lacks just about everywhere else: elite pass coverage.  Sure, the guys like Hightower, Upshaw and Nico Johnson can get by in the passing game, but don't be fooled: they are run-stoppers and pass-rushers.  Hightower and Upshaw in particular are a bit too big to try and keep up with a 6-foot, 180-pound receiver. 

That didn't seem to matter though, because that was Mosley's job and he was good at it.  Saban even stated that he brings in Mosley for passing situations and Nico Johnson in for run situations. 

In 2010 Mosley picked off two passes and returned both of them for touchdowns.  Yes, both of them. 

Mosley's injury is uncertain, but from the couch it looked really bad.  He walked into the locker room with a makeshift sling for his right elbow and a bag of ice the size of a basketball. 

The best case scenario would be just a hard bump to his funny bone.  The worst case would be a severe elbow sprain or a dislocated elbow.  Either of those could be season-enders, but both are a lot easier to recover from than a knee injury. 

Nico Johnson (#35) doesn't have the coverage skills that C.J. Mosley does, but he gets the job done.
Nico Johnson (#35) doesn't have the coverage skills that C.J. Mosley does, but he gets the job done.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This could be a substantial blow to the Alabama defense.  They have a lot of depth at that position, but Mosley is one of a kind.  He is one of the best—if not the best—coverage linebackers in the nation. 

His play has also allowed the defensive backs to drop back a lot farther when needed and hang with receivers when they try to stretch the field, hammering long balls with double coverage.  Having an outstanding coverage linebacker is often under-appreciated.

Alabama doesn't have another C.J. Mosley on the team, but they have enough depth to get by.  In 2009 Alabama lost a star sophomore linebacker, Dont'a Hightower, against the same team in the same week and still brought home the Coach's Trophy.  This year is the exact same scenario.

His most likely replacement will be Tana Patrick, a highly recruited redshirt sophomore, but senior Chris Jordan and upcoming star true freshman Trey DePriest could make an impact.  Patrick seems to be the best suited for coverage duties. 

Hopefully C.J. Mosley will be back on the field soon, because during his absence the Tide's passing defense on quick over-the-middle routes is really going to open up for opponents. 


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