Alabama will be without a starting offensive lineman in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban told reporters Saturday that Lester Cotton, the team’s starter at right guard, will not play Monday night against Georgia. Cotton, a 6-foot-4, 324-pound junior, has started all 13 games this season for the Tide. He went down with a knee injury in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson. He is the second starter to be ruled out for the title game after sustaining an injury in the CFP semifinal, joining linebacker Anfernee Jennings.
“We’ve got an injury list that’s really, really long. It’s been a cumulative effect of the season,” Saban said. “We lost two more players in the last game, Lester Cotton and Anfernee Jennings. Both starters are out for this game. I can’t even tell you the number of guys that we have out, but it’s a pretty significant number.”
Cotton started five games as a sophomore in 2016, two at left guard and three at right guard, and also saw time as a reserve at offensive tackle in four games in 2015 as a freshman.
When Cotton was injured against Clemson, senior J.C. Hassenauer filled at right guard and logged 57 snaps. Hassenauer, one of the team’s most-experienced backups, started two games at left guard earlier this year when All-SEC selection Ross Pierschbacher was out with an ankle injury. Including the Clemson game, Hassenauer has appeared in seven games this season, seeing action at both guard and center.
Including this season, Hassenauer has played in 24 games. If he makes the start for Cotton as expected, Monday night will be the biggest of his career.
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