The Alabama linebacker had long since changed out of his jersey. The pain in his elbow was to blame.
His status for Saturday’s trip to Florida remains in doubt as the third-ranked Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC) recovers from a bruising Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. A handful of Alabama players sought treatment in the locker room during the 38-14 beating of then-No. 14 Arkansas.
How quickly bumps and bruises heal before a trip to 12th-ranked Florida (4-0, 1-0) could play a significant factor at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Gators took a few blows last weekend in a 48-10 win at Kentucky but don’t expect any major issues in the next game.
Besides Mosley, who Alabama coach Nick Saban called “questionable” for Saturday, a few others felt continued effects from the Arkansas game Monday.
Running back Eddie Lacy injured a toe in the first half against the Razorbacks and was one who limped to the dressing room. Saban said the sophomore and second-leading rusher on the team wouldn’t practice much Monday. He was working without a black non-contact jersey during the media viewing period.
“He should progress as the week goes on and should be OK for the game,” Saban said.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower said he was completely fine after taking a few seconds to get up from a hit against Arkansas. It was “just a bang,” he said.
Should fellow inside linebacker Mosley miss the Florida game, the process of replacing the versatile sophomore isn’t as easy as plugging in the next guy on line. His roles in multiple formations and schemes changed or expanded jobs for as many as four different linebackers after the first-quarter elbow injury.
Expect a platoon of stand-ins if the unspecified injury doesn’t heal by the weekend.
“It’s probably going to have to be because it’s hard to replace a guy like C.J. Mosley — a guy that can play in the box and still be able to run around with wide receivers and stuff,” Hightower said. “So it’s going to be a combination of people, that’s for sure.”
Mosley’s most vital role comes when the Tide shifts to the nickel package. His ability to stop the run and drop into pass coverage makes him a versatile threat for opposing offenses. He’s the only Tide linebacker to record both a sack and a pass-breakup this season.
Mosley’s performance against the Gators a year ago showed what he can do against a passing team. Then a spread offense, Florida threw much more after trading coaching staffs.
He stepped in front of quarterback Jeff Brantley’s third-quarter throw across the middle that broke the Gators’ back. The interception was returned 35 yards for a touchdown and the final score in the 31-6 Tide win.
His absence in the rematch wouldn’t be a complete catastrophe, though.
“The one good thing is we have a lot of depth everywhere,” Hightower said. “He’s not going to be the equivalent — whoever it is — to Mosley, but we have a lot of depth. Guys can come in and play a lot of positions. It’s been that way for a while. That’s just the way coach Saban recruits.”
If he can’t go Saturday, playing a run-heavy offense like Florida’s might not expose the Tide defense as much as a pass-happy scheme like Arkansas’. Inside linebacker Nico Johnson plays more with the base defense set up to defend a pro-style offense like the Gators use.
For Florida, the situation is more manageable. Only cornerback Jeremy Brown, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury, was listed as a no-go by Florida coach Will Muschamp on Monday.
“I expect our full roster to be ready to go including Jeremy Reed this week,” Muschamp told reporters Monday in Gainesville. “We’ll be full-go at practice today other than Jeremy Brown.”
Brantley, a second-year starting quarterback, is feeling better after a second-quarter rib injury at Kentucky sent him to the locker room early. He told reporters he felt “just a little soreness from it,” but shouldn’t be an issue by Saturday.