Vanderbilt (3-5, 1-3 SEC) suffered a tough, shutout loss to No. 18 Houston (8-0) last Saturday, but there’s no time for a pity party. The Commodores will have to face the Florida Gators (7-1, 5-1 SEC) despite the boatload of injuries.
Linebacker Nigel Bowden (concussion) and offensive lineman Justin Skule (knee) won’t be able to touch the field for the rest of the season.
“Those two young men will be out for the remainder of the year, and we look forward to getting them back next season,” coach Derek Mason said. “And with that, we’re just going to continue to push forward. We’ve had our fair share of injuries this year, but this team has to continue to understand that it’s a next-man-up mentality, and we’re going to continue to move in that direction.”
Bowden hasn’t played since September 12 against Georgia, but the sophomore’s leadership was still a huge contribution to the defense. According to Mason, he’ll be sorely missed, but the Commodores have adapted to playing good defense without him on the field, and they will continue in his absence.
There is still time for both Bowden and Skule to redshirt, but Mason did not announce any of those options. In Bowden’s case, he saw it best that the linebacker focus on school rather than his position on the field because the entire concussion protocol process has been extremely slow.
“We want to make sure Nigel gets to the other side, but right now it’s more about the academics and where he’s sitting as a student, than it is about his athletic performance,” Mason said. “We just need to make sure that he is well, and that the protocols allow us to get him back in a manner that allows him to play the type of football that he can play.”
The future is unsure with the number of injuries that have overcome the team, but Vanderbilt will jump the hurdles as they come.