As conference play starts in earnest this weekend, we’re going to see what teams have come this far with their health intact.
The depth of college rosters is a blessing and a curse. Recruiting can allow a team to go three or four deep at every position, but we know that these maturing bodies often break down at a pretty high rate.
Healthiest teams are the ones that win. Let’s take a look around the league at all the injuries:
Florida vs. Tennessee
The biggest game in the conference and maybe the country is the matchup between Florida and Tennessee. Unfortunately, injuries might tip this game.
Luke Del Rio isn’t officially out yet, but he’s not playing with his knee sprain, as Zach Abolverdi first reported right here at SEC Country. That means another Purdue transfer will take up an SEC quarterback slot. Austin Appleby will lead a Gators attack that should have Antonio Callaway (quad strain) back, but not C.J. Worton (high ankle sprain). Worton’s making progress, but will be a late decision.
On the Tennessee side, the only injury question is Josh Smith. He’s just a couple weeks off of an ankle injury that had him on crutches. He’ll play, but how well remains to be seen. Josh Dobbs is a run-first quarterback, but having a target besides Josh Malone would help.
Robert Foster, WR Alabama
The Crimson Tide should be without ArDarius Stewart (knee), but losing Robert Foster as well would be problematic, even with Alabama’s depth chart.
Foster has a minor knee sprain, so expect Nick Saban to hold him out against Kent State, looking to use this slight lull in a tough schedule (Kent State, then Kentucky ahead of four ranked conference rivals, starting with Arkansas) to heal up his team.
Beyond Stewart and Foster, who Saban is hoping will both be ready for that Arkansas game, Bama also has injuries to Cam Sims (sprained shoulder) and Jalen Hurts (minor wrist sprain) to get fixed up ahead of that conference crush.
Drew Barker, QB Kentucky
Anytime a player is carted off, it’s a bad thing. Any back or neck injury has to be treated like it could be life threatening due to the possibility of spinal involvement, so it can look even worse.
Drew Barker took one nasty hit in the New Mexico State game and it could cost him a month or more. Rumblings are that he has a fractured vertebra, not unlike what Tony Romo is dealing with. While this sounds very bad and is very serious, the vertebrae are bones like any other and they heal predictably. Barker can come back once it’s healed and assuming that Stephen Johnson doesn’t continue to look as good as he did in relief.
Nick Chubb, RB Georgia
No, Bulldogs fans, your top running back is not hurt.
It’s clear that Nick Chubb has come all the way back from his knee injury and that he’s building his reputation back up in terms of his NFL potential. The knee injury won’t be held against him too much, especially if you consider how Todd Gurley’s situation went. In fact, Gurley’s return and production help Chubb, since he’s coming from essentially the same system.
I spoke with an NFL scout who’s watched all of Chubb’s film and he told me that he’s seen nothing this year that worries him.
“He’s got the burst and the power back, that’s clear,” he explained. “I’ve seen him make cuts and twists that good natural runners make. He’s not [Leonard] Fournette or [Dalvin] Cook, but he’s in the discussion right after that. I think because you know who he is, he’s the third RB off the board next spring.”