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Saban says Tua ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in injury recovery

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Nick Saban says quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is “probably ahead of schedule” in recovering from an ankle surgery.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up from Ewa Beach, Oahu, has been practicing for the top-ranked Crimson Tide, which began preparations Friday for an Orange Bowl semifinal matchup with Oklahoma.

Tagovailoa had surgery on his left ankle shortly after the Dec. 1 South-eastern Conference game during which he sustained a high ankle sprain on the first drive against Georgia. He played much of the way on the injury but had his worst game of the season.

Tagovailoa left in the fourth quarter after his own offensive lineman came down on his right foot.

Saban says Tagovailoa has been able to take a lot of practice repetitions, throw from the pocket and run. He doesn’t think the quarterback has “100 percent change of direction yet.”

“But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress,” Saban said. “So we’re encouraged by that.”