I’m Will Carroll and I’m happy to be joining SEC Country for the 2016 season.
I’ve spent the last two decades watching and researching injuries across sports.
Injuries are “just part of the game,” but nothing can derail a team like an injury to a star player. Enough of those and your team can go from a bowl you’ve heard of to a bowl you didn’t even know existed.
I’ll be watching all the teams across the SEC to tell you how injuries will affect the players, teams and whether you’ll be travelling to Tampa in January. Let’s take a look:
Ole Miss DB Ken Webster
There’s always one injury a week that leaves you cringing at the multiple-angle replays. This week’s was Ken Webster during the Monday night game against Florida State.
Webster, the Rebels’ top cover guy, went up for a jump ball. He landed on the side of his foot. His knee gave laterally (bent to the outside) and he went down. Sometimes, we see the leg itself give and the result is a fracture. With this, it looked more like the bend was at the knee, just the wrong way. The athletic trainers on the field did not immobilize the leg, an indication that there’s not a fracture.
Instead, they carted him off. A knee sprain is likely and remember, a sprain is a tear. Given the lateral shift, it’s likely to be at least an LCL sprain with the worry being for the ACL. Webster had an MRI on Monday to confirm, but manual tests likely showed the extent of the damage, so Hugh Freeze and staff knew Webster’s fate.
While the team hasn’t announced the details, Webster is out for the year, indicating that he did have ACL damage. Like most, he should be able to return fully from the injury in six to nine months.
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
NFL teams are salivating over the chance to draft Leonard Fournette, even in a draft flush with running back depth. In fact, one scout I spoke with last week says this is the best running back draft he’s ever seen, and he’s been in the NFL long enough to make Fournette-Earl Campbell comps.
Yes, he is human. Fournette came out of LSU’s loss with what is being called an ankle injury, but I’m a bit confused by this. Fournette has had some ankle issues in the past, but he got hit low — about the only place you can hit him — and seemed to “stuff” his leg.
Could he have injured his knee?
Fournette came off limping, but one big tell is where an athlete reaches just after an injury. It’s a natural instinct to grab and protect the spot that’s hurt. The ankle is one spot that’s not always the case, because some athletes can’t reach down and easily grab their ankle.
It doesn’t appear to be serious. But Fournette is going to continue to take these kind of low hits, so the Tigers medical staff is going to have to figure out how to protect and stabilize it.
Georgia RBs Nick Chubb, Sony Michel
Returning from ACL reconstruction is not simple, but it’s pretty predictable. Most will come back within six to nine months and show almost no deficits.
Nick Chubb looking like Nick Chubb shouldn’t surprise anyone. That he looked this good, this soon? That’s a bit of a surprise. The last thing that comes back after a major injury is confidence. It’s one thing to know the knee is fine, but another thing to get past the knowledge that the last time you did something, you ended up writhing on the turf in pain.
Chubb showed confidence, making cuts and jump stops rather than rounding corners or running “north and south” as some will do early in their return. The doctors and rehab professionals did a great job here. Chubb re-established himself as the top Dawg in the Georgia backfield.
Good news for Chubb and Georgia is bad news for Sony Michel. If Chubb needed to be eased back, Michel would get a window to show off his skills.
That window didn’t just close; Chubb slammed it shut before Michel even got to it. He hasn’t been able to take contact on the forearm he fractured, even with padding, so he’ll continue to work toward a return to his RB2/change of pace position. Another injured back, Elijah Holyfield, may beat him back from injury, so Michel’s fracture is very costly to his playing time.
Texas A&M S Justin Evans
No, Justin Evans did not pop his knee back into place.
Maybe knee dislocations are on people’s mind given the injury to Teddy Bridgewater — even doctors had difficulty putting things back in place — but that’s not what happened to Evans. He had a simple cramp in his calf and reacted by trying to stretch it. He grabbed his toe and pulled it back, and then his knee “popped” as it got past the resistance point. It looks like something, but it’s really nothing.
Cramps are a serious problem and even with teams focusing more on conditioning and hydration, we still see player after player succumbing to the issue.
Evans came back in the game and made a big play in overtime, so missing plays is a big deal. Imagine if he hadn’t returned, Aggies fans. There’s a lot of medical research going on in this area, so maybe video like this will be a thing of the past sooner rather than later.