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Injuries Take Toll for Alabama in Rout of NMSU

Roydell Williams, JoJo Earle mark two of the Crimson Tide's biggest losses heading into the final stretch of the season.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was one of those good news-bad news type of games.

Yes, Alabama crushed New Mexico State 59-3 on Saturday and the offense looked good and in sync.

But there were also some big injuries Alabama dealt with in the rout – running back Roydell Williams, kick returner JoJo Earle being the most significant.

“It was a little costly out there,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “We lost Roydell, who will probably be out for a while. JoJo is not quite as serious but will still be out for some time.”

Earle, a true freshman, exited the game on a cart after he got hurt on a punt return in the first quarter.

For the season, Earle has 13 punt returns for 95 yards, and he has 12 receptions for 148 yards. Slade Bolden fielded punts in Earle’s absence and had two returns for 37 yards.

Saban said defensive back DeMarco Hellams, who re-aggravated a thigh bruise in the first quarter and did not return, could have reentered, but Saban said he didn’t want to risk it with the Crimson Tide leading 35-3.

Lineman Javion Cohen had a wrist injury earlier in the week and did not play. Tommy Brown got the start at guard in his place.

Saban said Cohen’s injury is not serious and he will be back at practice next week, along with center Darion Dalcourt, who missed most of last week’s LSU game with an injury.

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Williams, the backup behind Brian Robinson, was hurt on his first and only carry of the game. The play happened late in the second quarter and Williams was taken to the locker room after the 11-yard gain.

The Crimson Tide already lost Jase McClellan for the season and can’t afford more loss of depth at the running back position.

Trey Sanders took the bulk of the second-half carries, totaling 66 yards and a 5-yard touchdown run. The Crimson Tide got to play Demouy Kennedy and Christian Leary as well.

"It's always tough to see someone go down, especially someone who works hard like Roydell” said Robinson, who finished with 99 yards on just nine carries with a 63-yard touchdown. “But it’s exciting for other guys to be able to step up and take advantage of their opportunity.”

Kennedy is listed as a linebacker but got his first action at running back Saturday.

“He played some running back in high school and he’s a big, heavy, athletic guy and he’s made some progress there,” Saban said of Kennedy, who rushed for 16 yards on seven carries.

Alabama used five running backs and rushed for 247 yards, including 26 yards from third-string quarterback Jalen Milroe.

“We'll be a little thin, but we’ve gotta keep the guys that we’ve got improving and get those other guys even more ready to play in the future,” Saban said.

For the second straight week the offensive line grouping was different because of injuries to Dalcourt and Cohen.

“I thought they played well,” Saban said. “But we’re going to play some better competition, some better front sevens with some bigger and stronger guys. We have to do a good job preparing them so that they can play well. We challenged ourselves as coaches this week to get players to play well”