Spring practice. Camp. Hot July and August days. Nonconference games and special “kickoff” editions. It’s a lot of football and it should be no surprise that immature bodies of 18- to 22-year- olds break down under the load.
At the highest levels and with top facilities, the human body may have gotten bigger, stronger and faster, but that’s worked against it becoming more durable. Every hit is faster by a bigger guy, meaning the force is there. The longer and faster someone runs, the more energy it takes and the longer the recovery. There’s trade-offs and the scales have long since tipped to performance over stamina and durability. Which means I have a lot to write about, so let’s get to it:
COREY CLEMENT, RB, Wisconsin
Paul Chryst was optimistic earlier in the week about Corey Clement being available Saturday. Some of that has dimmed as Clement has not made progress with his sprained ankle quite as quickly as hoped. Georgia State might not be enough of a test to really push things, and the Badgers do have depth behind Clement. Dare Ogunbowale will lead a committee if Clement isn’t able to convince coaches that he’s ready to go by Friday. With a big test a week out at Michigan State, I’d be surprised to see Wisconsin push things. Even if Clement goes, he’s not going to see a full workload.
BRANDON REILLY, WR, Nebraska
It’s easy to think speed when it comes to Oregon, but one of the Huskers’ fastest players is looking very unlikely for the matchup. Brandon Reilly wasn’t able to practice this week and his hamstring strain doesn’t appear to be healing fast enough to get him back for the game Saturday. Reilly is a deep threat who was injured on a deep ball, overextending the hamstring. It hurts even more that it was ruled incomplete after review. Reilly will get a last look on Friday and may test it before the game, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be healthy enough to get in there much.
MIKE MCCRAY, LB, Michigan
Michigan is obviously getting a lot of talent under coach Jim Harbaugh. Getting healthy is a key as well. Mike McCray has looked healthy and hungry, picking up Player of the Week honors in the Wolverines’ first game, then looking like a game wrecker last week. McCray missed all of last season with a severe shoulder injury and he’s still wearing some kind of harness underneath his shoulder pads, but as this video from Bleacher Report shows, it’s not affecting his play. My pal Michael Felder is certainly fired up watching him, and if McCray stays healthy he’s going to have fans and NFL scouts charged up, too. McCray and the Wolverines host Colorado on Saturday.
TORII HUNTER JR., WR, Notre Dame
On the other side from Michigan State, Notre Dame should have one of its receivers back for this clash of ranked teams. Torii Hunter Jr. was knocked out of the Irish’s first game almost literally. He suffered a concussion and was not cleared until the start of this week. Every concussion is different, so saying that a concussion is “mild” or “severe” is only something we can do in retrospect. One major issue is that while there are some guidelines, there’s not a strict concussion protocol in college football. We’re relying on doctors, athletic trainers and especially coaches to really have their athletes’ best interests above the interest of the current game, and that’s often a conflict. Players like Hunter are relying on that not being a problem.