Conference play is always supposed to be tough and physical, but tough and physical also mean injuries. Players, even the top athletes of the Big Ten, get worn down. Fatigue and soreness leads to injuries. Even injuries lead to other injuries, as the body tries to compensate.
The medical staffs of the teams are working tirelessly. We may only see them when they come on the field to help someone off, but they’re there even before the earliest tailgaters. Keep that in mind next time you see a player come back off injury, or get helped back into the game after being helped off. It can make a difference in a conference as tight as the Big Ten. Let’s look around at the injuries from the weekend:
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin
The Badgers have another big game at Michigan on Saturday, then a week off before hosting Ohio State. So seeing Clement’s performance in last Saturday’s 30-6 win at Michigan State has to make the team happy. After missing the previous game against Georgia State with an injured ankle, Clement had two touchdowns against the Spartans, showing that he had his power. But despite getting the bulk of the touches (23 carries, 54 yards), he was out gained by Dare Ogunbowale (nine carries, 55 yards) — purely a product of Clement not having his cuts and lateral mobility. He was turned into a “north and south” back, which is good for getting a few yards, especially at the end zone, but not so much for breaking anything. Take away his 22-yard run and his numbers look downright bad. Clement is clearly not back near 100 percent and against the swarming Michigan defense, he and his team will have a tougher test.
Janarion Grant, WR, Rutgers
It was a tough week for the Scarlet Knights, losing both Grant, their star speedster WR/KR, and DE Quanzell Lambert for the year in Saturday’s 14-7 loss to Iowa. Grant injured his ankle at the end of a big 76-yard play in one of those football plays that just make you cringe. It was a strange mechanism, with Grant’s ankle being stepped on. I’ll link to the video here rather than dropping it in, because while it’s not necessarily gruesome, it’s tough to watch. I can’t remember a similar mechanism of injury. The force of the full body weight of a running player coming down on a planted ankle is devastating, so there’s worry throughout the joint — bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints could have all been compromised. The team hasn’t released details, but Grant is done and will seek a redshirt.
Perry Hills, QB, Maryland
The Terps still aren’t sure who’ll be under center for them Saturday at home against Purdue, or they at least aren’t telling anyone. My sources tell me that Hills is expected to go, but that the team will take all week to decide if he’s ready after suffering a shoulder sprain at UCF on Sept. 17. Maryland had a bye last weekend. The team will have Caleb Rowe ready to go and there’s a chance that DJ Durkin and his staff will go with both during the game. The key will be keeping Hills upright. Much like Jimmy Garoppolo and Robert Griffin III in the NFL, shoulder injuries are on the rise in college quarterbacks because of the speed and size of the defenders. Speed rushers tend to knock QBs over hard, with them often landing on their shoulders with a force the joint can’t handle. We should have a better handle on whether Hills gets the start by late in the week.
Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana
The Kevin Wilson aerial attack will be down its top receiver, likely for the rest of the season. Cobbs injured his ankle on his first snap of the season, against Ball State in Week 2. Reports have been that he has a severe sprain or a fractured fibula, but there’s a probability that both are correct. The surgical recovery is about the same for both, so the Hoosiers will have a decision. Cobbs could be redshirted, or they could hope that he could return very late in the season and certainly for a bowl.
The Hoosiers are about to run into a buzzsaw in their schedule, hosting Michigan State, traveling to Ohio State, then returning home for Nebraska in successive weeks. Given last Saturday’s 33-28 home loss to Wake Forest, and a trip to Michigan coming in November, the Hoosiers need four wins from their five games against Northwestern, Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, and Purdue to get bowl eligible, unless they pull off a big upset. That need might lead Wilson to hold onto Cobbs as a late season possibility.