Anderson speculated that players new to schemes and techniques might be more susceptible to injuries earlier in a season
A breathlessly awaited opening weekend of college football did not bring an abundance of upsets or fantastic finishes. Instead, the image was shaped by crutches and carts.
Four power program starting quarterbacks left games with crushing injuries and most have been declared lost for the season.
At other positions, one touted as preseason All-America and one reigning conference player of the year went down. Other key players throughout the game were visited by the injury reaper.
Former Texas coach and now ESPN analyst Mack Brown spoke for all of them from his Twitter account: “1 of the hardest things in CFB is young people work so hard to be grt, and 1 freak injury & their dreams are ruined 4 the year! Tough deal!”
The toughest of deals for quarterbacks like Syracuse’s Terrel Hunt, who on a first-quarter scramble against Rhode Island, tore his Achilles’ tendon. The Orangemen have started the process of petitioning for a sixth year of eligibility.
Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz won the starting job in a spirited four-man battle, only to suffer a knee injury on the first play against South Dakota. He played a second snap and was finished. Coach Bill Snyder, who rarely discusses injuries disclosed Ertz will out “for quite some time.”
Brigham Young’s final-play victory over Nebraska was tempered by a season-ending foot injury to Taysom Hill, and it’s the third time in four years Hill will not have finished a season because of an injury.
In the Ohio State-Virginia Tech holiday weekend finale, Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer’s collarbone was broken on a third-quarter tackle and a close game became a Buckeyes’ romp.
Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, a unanimous All-America last year, was the first to fall, on Thursday, tearing cartilage in his left knee, and the injuries continued with Pittsburgh running back James Conner (the ACC player of the year), TCU linebacker Sammy Douglas, Notre Dame running back Tarean Folston, UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, Stanford defensive lineman Harrison Phillips and Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams suffering injuries that will sideline them anywhere from a month to the season.
Was it a typical weekend for injuries that was amplified by the opening weekend, no-NFL games spotlight?
Or is there something about the first game action that lends itself to injury?
Scott Anderson, president of the College Athletic Trainers’ Society, hasn’t noticed an annual trend.
“We don’t look at it as if there are definite factors,” said Anderson, Oklahoma’s head athletic trainer.
And he hasn’t come across any data to suggest that serious injuries occur in the opening week more than other weeks, but Anderson speculated that players new to schemes and techniques might be more susceptible to injuries earlier in a season rather than later.
The high-profile limping and carting off happened as college football has moved the player-safety issue to the front burner. The SEC and Big Ten now have an independent medical observer in the press box replay booth to monitor head and neck injuries. They have the power to communicate with the replay official to have the game stopped and the player removed from the game.
The Big 12 is limiting live contact opportunities to no more than twice per week, and one of those days is the game on game week. Previously the rule had been three contact days per week.
Still, even with the increased awareness, the opening weekend seemed to produce more cries of “next man up,” than usual.
Anderson was watching the Ohio State-Virginia Tech game when Brewer left the game in the third quarter after the hit that broke his collar bone. The update is a four- to eight-week absence. Anderson was reminded of another opening-game injury, to the Sooners’ Sam Bradford in 2009.
Oklahoma’s season changed that day as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was lost for the year. Many schools around the country felt a similar pain last weekend.