(ESPN) TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Less than a week after having hip surgery, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returned to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday and said that being back with his Tide teammates "means everything."

Tagovailoa was greeted with hearty applause from fans during the Tide's home game against Western Carolina. He entered the field on a golf cart, which is where ESPN sideline reporter Lauren Sisler spoke to him during the first quarter.

Tagovailoa thanked his parents and fans for their support, a week after he dislocated his hip and fractured the posterior wall against Mississippi State last Saturday. He had surgery on Monday in Texas before flying back to Tuscaloosa on Friday.

"I just can't thank everyone enough for the amount of support they've given me and my family," Tagovailoa said.

"Whether I'm feeling good or not, just being out here kind of uplifts my spirit," he said. "And I hope it does the same for them. Being out here and being able to see football again is just great."

Alabama orthopedist Dr. Lyle Cain thinks Tagovailoa should be able to begin athletic activity in three months and should be ready to begin throwing again by the spring, according to ESPN's Laura Rutledge.

In the meantime, Alabama has moved on with redshirt sophomore Mac Jones as its quarterback.

Jones started just his second career game against Western Carolina.

During Wednesday's SEC teleconference, Saban said he encouraged Jones to be "in command" now that he's the starter.

"You're not a sparring partner anymore," Saban said he told Jones. "You're the lead dog, so you've got to be in control of what you're doing and have positive body language, not only in terms of what you do but in how you affect other people."