The Big Ten has been fairly healthy this year. There’s certainly exceptions and a number of key injuries, but the star players have, for the most part, remained healthy. That’s a testament to the medical staffs, but there’s a secondary task going on as well.
Many Big Ten schools have top programs in athletic training, turning out the next generation of sports medicine practitioners who will keep our players or our children healthy. Watching last week’s Indiana game, I noticed two student trainers looking over the shoulder of one of the med staff as a doctor examined an injured player. Keeping the best players in college healthy is one thing, but there’s not just one job for these hard-working men and women who get very little attention. Let’s look around at the injuries that will affect this weekend’s games:
Vince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin
The injury to Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is a bit of a mystery. We know certain things, but don’t have all the key facts. Biegel’s father told ESPN that his son had surgery, inserting a screw into a broken bone, and that he was expected back in two to four weeks. We don’t know which bone, but there’s not many options, especially given the timeline. There’s 26 bones in the foot, but only about five that we see fractured in football. A Jones fracture to the fifth metatarsal, on the outside of the foot, is common, but surgery would keep him out about eight weeks. A midfoot fracture normally takes about six weeks to heal. We’ll just have to keep watching this one, but don’t expect Biegel back this week at Michigan or next week against Ohio State.
Perry Hills, QB, Maryland
If there are any fans that root for both Maryland and the New England Patriots, they’re going to have deja vu this weekend. Perry Hills and Jimmy Garoppolo are both coming back from mild acromioclavicular (AC) sprains. If the Terps can prevent Hills from landing on the shoulder, he should be fine. The team will have backup quarterback Caleb Rowe ready. Purdue will likely try to test Hills early, trying to put hits on him and testing whether he can make the longer, finer throws. If so, the playcalling early will likely show that the Terps will move to shorter, inside throws and timing routes.
Drake Johnson, RB, Michigan
“Soft tissue.” That’s all Jim Harbaugh would say about the injury holding Drake Johnson out of last week’s game. Will the Wolverines have Johnson back as their RB2 this week? Early suggestions that Johnson could miss an extended period have proved to be untrue, but they do show there was concern. Johnson was also seen wearing a knee brace at practice, so let’s assume those two events are connected. A mild knee sprain, perhaps to the MCL or LCL, is something that could be serious and would have resulted in significant swelling, only to show mild damage on imaging. Johnson’s an important backup for Michigan, so we’ll have to look for more clues.
Camion Patrick, RB, Indiana
With Simmie Cobbs down for an extended period, the aerial attack of Indiana is now reliant on the depth of the receiving corps. Kevin Wilson’s crew is deep, but that can be wiped out quickly with just a few key injuries. The rushing game is the bigger question, having lost Jordan Howard to the NFL. Camion Patrick could help with both as he’s coming back from an ACL reconstruction. Patrick dressed but didn’t play against Wake Forest, but, with Michigan State coming to town, he could be a big help in a big game. We’ll see whether the team gets him back this week, but he’s very close.