Tua Tagovailoa has one more problem to worry about.
He wears No. 91.
Auburn pass rusher Nick Coe is cleared to play and will return along Auburn’s defensive line for the Iron Bowl on Saturday, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said during his press conference Tuesday.
Coe has had a decorated season at Auburn. He’s been named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the week on three separate occasions this year.
The redshirt sophomore has piled up seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss this season, while forcing two fumbles and logging three quarterback hurries.
He missed Auburn’s home finale against Liberty last weekend, sitting out the game with a wrist injury.
But he’ll suit up for the Iron Bowl, Malzahn said, for a Tigers team that should have a fairly clean bill of health going into its annual rivalry showdown.
“He’s been cleared to play, and we expect all our guys to be ready to play,” Malzahn said Tuesday.
Coe is listed at 6-foot-5 and 282 pounds. He’s been a standout all season, and could be central to Auburn’s chances at disrupting Alabama’s Heisman Trophy front-runner in Tagovailoa, and the rest of the Crimson Tide offense.
“Nick Coe’s one of the better defensive linemen in our league and to have him out there and his presence is really big, especially playing against an offense like this that presents the challenges that they present,” Malzahn said.
Coe earned SEC honors in the weeks after Auburn’s wins over Washington, Ole Miss and Texas A&M this season. Most recently, he picked up one of the league’s weekly awards after he forced a fumble and recorded two tackles for loss in Auburn’s 28-24 win over Texas A&M on Nov. 3.
He went down with a wrist injury in Auburn’s game against Georgia two Saturday’s ago, and did not return to that game.
Malzahn said Coe could be geared up a wrap, brace, or other apparatus Saturday, but that he’d play.
Coe recorded five tackles, with a sack and a quarterback hurry in Auburn’s win over Alabama last season.
When asked about running back JaTarvious Whitlow, who has battled nagging injuries all season, Malzahn said Whitlow is ‘full speed’ and ready to go.