As kickoff draws closer for the Duke Blue Devils and the Alabama Crimson Tide, the 2019 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game will present a host of unknowns for both teams.
Wednesday afternoon, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban told the assembled media that star linebacker Dylan Moses has been ruled out for the season with a torn ACL. While freshman linebacker Shane Lee will step in for Moses, Saban believes it will be a character check for everybody on the defense.
“I think it’s a character check for Dylan in terms of the support that we want to give him and the adversity that he has to overcome,” Saban said Wednesday. “But it’s also a character check for everybody on our team to be able to keep the faith, to respond to adversity the way they need to, to accept the challenge and to rise above the challenge.
“Support each other. Support the young players who are going out to play and to go from there. That’s the only choice we have.”
The Alabama defense seems to be the most reliable commodity compared to what they’ll face across the line of scrimmage.
The Duke Blue Devils are replacing quarterback Daniel Jones who shockingly left early and was also shockingly drafted by the New York Giants sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Head coach David Cutcliffe has had a great history with grooming quarterbacks (see Heath Shuler, Peyton and Eli Manning) but his latest pupil, Quentin Harris, is poised to take the reins at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“One of the things that I’ve been fortunate to do in my career is to replace first-round draft choice quarterbacks. It’s not an easy task,” Cutcliffe said to the Associated Press. “We have to realize it’s all about what they can function within and what they do well. … I could not be more excited about having a fifth-year senior to step up and step in.”
Harris has had two 100-yard rushing games in his career and as a dual-threat quarterback, he seeks to keep the Alabama defense on their toes.
“Hopefully I’ve earned the respect of my teammates over the last four years, kind of in the role that I’ve occupied,” Harris said. “But I think hopefully I’ve taken the reins, taken a more vocal leadership role. As I started to play more in a supplemental role in the last couple of seasons, took more leadership of the team, a more vocal standpoint.”
The Crimson Tide will bring quarterback Tua Tagovailoa back to Atlanta and he cherishes the opportunity to play at The Benz.
“Well, yeah. I still feel like I’m in college, which I am, but when you play in atmospheres that professionals played in, that’s something that I’ve dreamed of as a kid, going to the NFL,” Tagovailoa said. “But being able to play in an atmosphere like that, it’s awesome. It’s almost close to my dream.”
There have been questions regarding the junior signal caller’s health in the 2018 season. There was the broken bone in his throwing hand, then he had the leg injury that forced him out of the SEC Championship game against Georgia. However, Tagovailoa is healthy and eager to get going.
“Football is like life,” Tagovailoa said Monday. “That’s just how it is, you know? You’re going to have goods, you’re going to have bads.
“But this is an opportunity for me to learn from both the good and bad, kind of bring them together and move forward from it. I’m hoping this Saturday won’t end up like the last, the SEC championship game. Hopefully, it will be better.”
The Duke Blue Devils and the Alabama Crimson Tide will face off at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday afternoon inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.