The cliche is that any team can beat any other team on any given weekend. Maybe that’s true or maybe it’s not, but with injuries, any play can be the one that changes a season. It doesn’t even have to come in a game. Practice injuries or even an accident off the field can alter the course of a season despite years of recruiting, planning, and work. We never know when or how they’ll come, but they’ll always come. Some of them happened this weekend for teams around the league, so let’s take a look:
QB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
The good news is that ACL injuries are, in 2016, predictable. The surgery, the rehab, the return — we can pretty much say that most players will return and return well. The timing couldn’t be worse for Kelly and Ole Miss as the team pushes for a bowl and as Kelly gets ready for the NFL draft. Much like Todd Gurley a few years ago, Kelly will be able to show off his rehab progress and his tape will have to stand for itself. Most mock drafts had Kelly going in the late second or early third round and I don’t feel that this will change that slot significantly.
It does change what Ole Miss can do. Jason Pellerin filled in and has done some goal line work this season, but top ’16 recruit Shea Patterson might have to have his redshirt lifted for the final three games. Regardless, Kelly was the focus and the strength of the Ole Miss offense so his absence will be crushing to a team that’s trying to get bowl eligible.
QB Trevor Knight, Texas A&M
The Aggies not only were defeated last weekend, but losing Knight for any period of time will test their depth at a position that does not have much. Jake Hubenak played well in their defeat, but his inexperience showed. Knight injured his arm after landing on it while being tackled, a play that is becoming common for quarterbacks. It was a bit different mechanism than we normally see since Knight was running. While Texas A&M hasn’t confirmed what the injury is, probably pending more tests, this type of injury can range from an AC sprain to a fractured collarbone. The Aggies will have to adjust quickly if they hope to keep their ranking up for a key bowl, but we don’t know yet how long Knight will be out.
RB AJ Turner, South Carolina
Turner has had trouble with his knee all season and without his big play ability, the Gamecocks offense has struggled. Turner returned but appeared to have more problems last weekend. It’s unclear whether this is an exacerbation of the previous injury or something new, but Turner’s availability is now in question. While Will Muschamp did tell the media that the injury is a sprain, there’s no information on which ligament is damaged or how severely. This is going to be one to watch through the next week, though public information is very difficult to come by with this program.
QB Sean White, Auburn
The Tigers were hoping to rest White through an injury but a tough Vanderbilt team kept things close. Finally, Gus Malzahn had seen enough and sent White onto the field to propel the team to a win that keeps its title hopes alive. While the Tigers won’t confirm anything about White’s injury, reports are that it is to his shoulder. White had practiced leading up to the game and showed no real deficiency in his work. This seems less like a long-term issue and one in which the team had simply hoped to avoid making it worse. If the Tigers did that, White’s availability shouldn’t be in question.