Off weeks have me wondering. What if college football added a few more off weeks during the season, instead of adding additional conference games? That could be a very big deal for everyone involved.
Teams love off weeks for getting healthy and for game planning. Maybe we’d have a few less games per week, but adding a couple weeks into the season actually would make games significantly healthier, and that will always make games better. For now, let’s look around the conference:
Kerryon Johnson, RB Auburn
It’s been three weeks since Johnson’s ankle sprain and though Johnson was active last week against Arkansas, a couple things kept him off the field. First, the ankle was still tender through practice and Johnson just couldn’t convince the coaches that he could do the physical things he needed to do. The second is that Kamryn Pettway is taking the opportunity and running with it.
Johnson will play against Ole Miss, but he’ll be the second part of a committee with Pettway getting the bigger split of touches. That all can change in Auburn’s fluid offense with one big play, since Gus Malzahn may be the ultimate “hot hand” coach.
Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
An NFL scout I spoke with watched the tape of Fournette’s game vs. Ole Miss and basically drooled the entire way through. With one game, Fournette turned the whole NFL back on, dubbing him the top runner available in the draft.
Granted, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook also have had some injury issues and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey has had a disappointing campaign, but Fournette’s ankle injury lingered enough for scouts to zero in on some negatives with Fournette. Could he play through pain? Would he? Does he heal slowly? Is that ankle going to be a recurring concern?
These are all still valid questions, but watching him play is the ultimate distraction. If he can stay healthy for the rest of the season, the ridiculous comparisons are going to get … well, I’m not sure they can get any crazier.
Eddie Jackson, S Alabama
Jackson returned to Alabama this season rather than head to the NFL, but we’ll have to wait until May 2017 to see whether the decision cost him. It was certainly painful, as Jackson’s season ended last weekend with a broken leg.
Jackson will be out past the time frame of the bowl season and the College Football Playoff, so he can focus on getting healthy for the NFL Scouting Combine in late February. The broken bone will heal, so the only real question will be whether Jackson’s time off will cost him some speed. It’s not likely to cost him much, and if he can rip off a good 40 time, he could be a late first-round pick.
Austin Allen, QB Arkansas
The biggest plus for Allen is the off week ahead of the Florida matchup. That should be just enough time for Allen to heal and get back in the lineup, though the Razorbacks will have their backups ready and more prepared than normal. The bigger question, especially against a speed rushing team like Florida, is whether Allen will have the brace on his knee that he showed last game after the injury.
Braces take a bit to get used to, as we’ve seen some with Gators QB Luke Del Rio, so that adjustment could affect Allen’s effectiveness. My guess is if you saw Allen in Fayetteville right now, he’d be wearing the brace, just to get used to the feel.