The SEC certainly lived up to its reputation as the nation’s roughest, toughest conference on Saturday as the injury bug bit several high profile teams hard.
Not even a week after Florida received devastating news that they’d be without quarterback Jeff Driskel (broken leg) and defensive tackle Dominique Easley (ACL) for the remainder of the season, the hits kept coming for the conference. Heisman-hopefuls to pivotal role players were among those who went down on Saturday.
RT @Year2 Welp. SEC football is a meat grinder today. Connor Shaw, Brandon Wilds, Todd Gurley, and now J.C. Copeland.
— Matt Zemek (@MattZemek_CFN) September 28, 2013
It all began in Orlando, where the Gamecocks matched up against a stubborn UCF team.
On the team’s opening drive, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw sprained his right shoulder after scrambling for a first down. He was later seen with his arm in a sling and ice on his shoulder. Backup running back Brandon Wilds would join him soon after, dislocating his shoulder.
What it means… Not only will the Gamecocks be without its starting quarterback, but the team will also be losing its second and third-best runners.
Thus far, Shaw threw for 661 yards and six touchdowns (zero interceptions) on 64.9 percent passing while adding another 232 yards on the ground. On the other hand, Wilds rushed for 140 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.
On Saturday, Dylan Thompson took over at quarterback, going 15-of-32 (46.9 percent) for 261 yards and one interception. The junior also added a touchdown on the ground.
While South Carolina should have no problem with next weekend’s matchup against Kentucky, trips to Arkansas and Tennessee suddenly become more daunting.
If facing No. 6 LSU wasn’t tough enough, the Bulldogs had to go the majority of the game without Heisman-hopeful running back Todd Gurley.
The sophomore got off to a blistering start, racking up 73 yards on eight carries midway through the second quarter. However, he landed awkwardly after being tackled and missed the remainder of the game.
What it means… If he misses extended time, this is a tremendous loss for the Bulldogs.
Gurley was the driving force behind the team’s efforts in a close loss at Clemson and an impressive victory against the Gamecocks. He has totaled 450 yards and four touchdowns on the ground this year.
Keith Marshall would be the likely replacement.
Against the Tigers, the sophomore filled in decently, rushing for 96 yards on 20 carries. He has 213 yards and a touchdown on the season.
While Marshall has the potential to produce, he is no Gurley. That could prove to be a problem for a Georgia squad that can’t afford to make any mistakes if it wants to keep its BCS-title hopes alive.
Fortunately, the team’s next real text only comes on Nov. 2 during its rivalry showdown with Florida.
The back-to-back BCS champion Crimson Tide weren’t immune to the bug either.
The team’s starting center Ryan Kelly left the game after sustaining a knee injury in the second quarter. He missed the remainder of the game and as Michael Casagrande of AL.com reports, Kelly stretched his MCL and could be out for as many as four weeks.
Running back T.J. Yeldon also missed some time.
The sophomore put together a sensational performance, rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. However, he sat out the entire fourth quarter with a “butt bruise.”
However, the injury isn’t expected to be serious.
What it means… It isn’t good news for an Alabama offensive line that only returned two starters from last year.
Coming into this week, the team ranked just No. 91 in the nation, averaging 132 rushing yards per game. Losing the starting center shouldn’t make matters any easier for the Tide.
Sure, they ran for 254 yards against Ole Miss on Saturday. However, the Rebels don’t have a reputation for being a stifling defense.
It will be interesting to see how head coach Nick Saban chooses to resolve the issue. On Saturday, junior Chad Lindsay filled in for Kelly.
Even the Rebels had a scare of their own.
Early in the first quarter, defensive end C.J. Johnson was carted off the field with an apparent ankle injury. However, although initially believed to be serious, the junior was back on the field for Ole Miss in no time.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t Johnson’s day.
Surprisingly, the guilty party wasn’t flagged for targeting. Expect the SEC commissioner to be all over this one during the week.
What it means… Nothing really. Johnson appeared to be perfectly fine after reentering the game.
It only added to what was a rather miserable night for the Rebels, who exited Bryant-Denny Stadium on the wrong side of a 25-0 whooping.