Belue limped off the field with what his coach said is turf toe. He was on the sideline in sweat pants and wore a walking boot on his right foot.
“Deion Belue hurt his toes,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. “I don’t know how hurt his toe is. So he’s got turf toe. He couldn’t continue to play.”
Right guard Anthony Steen and wide receiver Kevin Norwood were also banged up Saturday. Steen wasn’t on the field for the Tide’s decisive touchdown drive. He was replaced by Kellen Williams, who is Alabama's top backup on the line.
Norwood reportedly was taken to the Texas A&M locker room, according to CBS and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Saban is expected to update the injury report during his Monday news conference.
The biggest difference in this year’s Alabama-Texas A&M game and last year's was the turnover ratio.
Last season, Texas A&M forced three turnovers and committed none. On Saturday, Alabama forced two turnovers and only committed one, a T.J. Yeldon fumble inside the 5-yard line.
“The fumble was huge going in on the score for them to make a big play and to get back in the game,” Saban said.
The Tide’s defense forced Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel to throw two interceptions. Cornerback Cyrus Jones, a converted wide receiver, picked off a Manziel pass in the end zone to stop a scoring drive. Saban called it a game changing moment.
Safety Vinnie Sunseri intercepted a Manziel pass and took it 73 yards for a touchdown. He also had an interception return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech.
On the play, Sunseri slipped past Aggie players and put an impressive move on Manziel before breaking tackles for the score. Sunseri said “playing kick return and punt return in high school” gave him the skills to avoid defenders.
After not having a role in the season opener against Virginia Tech, Kenyan Drake made his way back into the good graces of coaches and teammates.
The sophomore running back was the Tide’s third-leading rusher last season.
Against the Aggies, Drake was the Tide’s second leading rusher behind starter T.J. Yeldon.
Drake rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and averaged 7.1 yards per carry.
When running back T.J. Yeldon scored his touchdown, he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Yeldon gestured with his hands in a way that earned him the flag.
Saban didn’t take kindly to the penalty and was visibly angry on the sideline. He got after Yeldon pretty good when he returned to the bench.
“That’s not us," Saban said. "That’s not our program. That’s not what we do. We’ve never ever tolerated and we’ve never ever had it. I don’t think there’s any place for it in college football. I can’t control what other people do, but I can control what our guys do.”
In the second quarter, safety HaHa Clinton-Dix was flagged for a head-to-head hit against Texas A&M wide receiver Derel Walker.
Initially, Clinton-Dix was ejected for targeting, but after further review, the ejection did not stand.
By rule, however, the penalty stood.
“I thought the guy was playing the ball, he put his hands out,” Saban said. “The guy was unprotected. If he hit him in the head, it’s a penalty. If he was playing the ball, it wasn’t targeting. So he shouldn’t have gotten ejected. I think it was handled the right way.”
Alabama got an open date before playing Texas A&M, and the Crimson Tide will get what should be an easy day on the field this week with Colorado State coming to Tuscaloosa. Kickoff is 6 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU.
The storyline will be former Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain returning as the Rams’ head coach. McElwain left for his head-coaching opportunity immediately after coaching in the Tide’s route of LSU in the 2012 Bowl Championship Series final.
It’ll be interesting to see what McElwain comes up with against an Alabama defense that struggled so much against Texas A&M.
Still, Saturday’s game should prove to be a reprieve before Alabama’s next SEC game, which comes at home against Ole Miss on Sept. 28.