BYU's secondary has grown thinner as the offseason has progressed, but the biggest blow to this defense came when standout cornerback Jordan Johnson went down with an injury on Monday. The diagnosis, after an MRI, was an ACL tear that will prevent Johnson from playing this season.
Entering his redshirt junior year, the Springfield, Massachusetts native was listed as the Cougar starter at field corner heading into the fall. Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune shed more light on how the injury occurred:
Two sources: BYU projected starting CB Jordan Johnson tore ACL while returning a kick. No contact. He planted foot wrong, went down. Flukish— Jay Drew (@drewjay) August 13, 2013
If this is true, there is no doubt questions will arise about why Johnson was returning kickoffs if he's such a valuable part of the team. Why would the coaching staff put him in harm’s way when his health is crucial?
Because Johnson redshirted his first year in Provo, he will not be rewarded an extra medical season by the NCAA. Having him back next year will be reassuring, especially since Daniel Sorensen and Mike Hague are in their final years of eligibility.
But his presence will be missed this season.
It would be different if the cornerback position had plenty of solid players, but compared to others, Johnson is on a whole different level. As seen in the table below, there isn't a cornerback who has the experience or statistics that Johnson does.
Without him, the secondary is not only shallow, but the field corner position lacks outstanding talent. This fact alone could be an Achilles' heel for the team. Four teams on this year's schedule were ranked among the top 45 passing offenses last season.
Defending deep passes could be tough with as much inexperience in the secondary as there is now, and if there's one factor that will prove how essential Johnson is to the defense, it's that.
Injuries are abundant in football, but this one is harder to swallow than others. Losing a seasoned player like Johnson is huge.