Nick Saban’s going to have to do some scrambling this week because his and Jeremy Pruitt’s defense just took a big hit.
As AL.com reported today, strong side linebackers Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis have been declared out for the season, both due to arm injuries.
Miller, who is technically the starter at the SAM linebacker position, has a torn biceps. Lewis tore a ligament in his elbow that will require surgery this week.
The immediate effect of this may not be felt until SEC play starts in three weeks in Nashville against Vanderbilt, but it should not be underestimated how losing your two deep at one position can make a difference for a defense already trying to find its identity after losing Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams to the draft.
However, it should make Tide fans feel hopeful for the future that back-up linebackers Keith Holcombe and Mack Wilson received extensive playing time due to the injuries of Miller and Lewis, as well as Rashaan Evans and Anfernee Jennings.
The severity of fellow LBs Evans and Jennings’ injuries have not been disclosed. With Fresno State and Colorado State on the horizon, it may stand to reason that some of the other backups may be thrust into action very soon.
For those curious about the possible Tide players taking over for Lewis and Miller, junior Jamey Mosley and true freshman Chris Allen were listed as viable backups to Jennings at the JACK LB position. Also, true freshman Dylan Moses, who had a monster game on special teams Saturday evening, has been training inside but has the athleticism to move outside if necessary.
Based off what we saw this past Saturday, though, personnel groupings in Saban’s defense vary enough that Holcombe and Wilson, along with senior Shaun Dion Hamilton, may be the only linebackers the Tide need.
Time will certainly tell, but we here at TSK wish Miller and Lewis a speedy recovery.