College Football Week 9 Starting with Notable Players on Sidelines
Looking around many of college football's top contenders heading into Week 9, one common theme rings true: injuries galore.
No team has been safe from the injury bug this season, as Alabama, Oregon, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Maryland, Miami and many more top teams have had crowded training rooms this season.
Alabama's vaunted defense took a major hit this week, while fellow national title hopeful Oregon is still looking to bring back its most explosive playmaker from an injury sustained weeks ago.
Meanwhile, several quarterbacks, including South Carolina's Connor Shaw, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez and Northwestern's Kain Colter, are all up in the air going forward.
Many teams have hopes of keeping an unblemished record, while many more are just hoping to keep their players off the training table.
From Fresno to Florida State, check out the laundry list of injured stars heading into Week 9.
Vinnie Sunseri, S: Out for season (Knee)
Safety Vinnie Sunseri tore a ligament in his knee in Alabama's 52-0 win over Arkansas and will miss the remainder of the season. As reported by Andrew Gribble of AL.com, the junior has already undergone surgery.
Sunseri himself tweeted after his surgery, saying it went "awesome" and including a "four month countdown" hashtag.
If he sticks to that time line, he should be back in time to at least contribute on a limited basis during spring practice.
Sunseri was a major part of the UA defense, as he notched 20 tackles and brought two interceptions back for touchdowns. However, there are suitable replacements waiting in the wings.
Alabama's depth chart for its contest with Tennessee still listed Sunseri as the starter, but Landon Collins, Jarrick Williams and Geno Smith all stand as potential replacements.
Week 9: vs. Tennessee
James Wilder Jr., RB: Out (Concussion)
Wilder sustained a hit to the chin in FSU's win over Clemson last week and was reportedly wearing sunglasses while watching practice early in the week, a common practice with concussion victims.
Wilder's absence will increase the roles of starter Devonta Freeman and fellow backup Karlos Williams.
Matthew Thomas, LB: Out for season (Shoulder)
Sonnone also reported that freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas will miss the remainder of the season to undergo shoulder surgery.
A highly touted true freshman, Thomas saw action in four games this season. He is expected to be eligible for a medical redshirt.
Week 9: vs. NC State
Marteze Waller, RB: Questionable (Foot)
Fresno State's leading rusher, Marteze Waller, suffered a foot injury last week in the Bulldogs' 38-14 win over UNLV.
The sophomore missed practice early this week and head coach Tim DeRuyter called him "50-50" for this weekend. He also told Anteola that Fresno is preparing to have him in a limited role.
If he is unable to go, there will likely be an increase of reps for Josh Quezada, whom he had been splitting carries with this season.
Week 9: at San Diego State
J.C. Copeland, FB: Doubtful (Concussion)
J.C. Copeland, a major part of the powerful LSU running game, is likely to miss some time with a concussion.
Tigers head coach Les Miles said that there was no horseplay involved in the injury, but that Copeland simply slipped in tiled area of the team showers and hit his head on the floor. On Copeland's status for this weekend, Miles said, "I don't know that he'll be with us this Saturday."
LSU should be just fine against Furman this week but will need him back against Alabama in two weeks.
Week 9: vs. Furman
Stefon Diggs, WR: Out for season (Leg)
Deon Long, WR: Out for season (Leg)
C.J. Brown, QB: Out (Trunk)
Brandon Ross, RB: Out (Shoulder)
There are several teams that have been riddled by injuries this year, but none have a longer injury report than Maryland.
The most recent UMD injury report, from Daniel Martin of CSN Baltimore, is 24 players long and features nine players out for the season, and 12 players out for at least this weekend's game against Clemson.
The Terrapins lost their top two offensive playmakers, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, for the season, each with legs broken against Wake Forest. Starting quarterback C.J. Brown and running back Brandon Ross have also been added to the list.
C.J. Brown is medically cleared to play against Clemson, but coach Randy Edsall suggested Tuesday that he has lingering concerns about the quarterback and isn't yet prepared to name a starter...Edsall said he won't put players into games "if they're not performing to the standards due to health-related issues."
I think I owe it to those young men to say that if I'm not sure you can end up doing the things you're capable of doing on the field, then what I have to do is put somebody else in there so I don't further risk a young man to injury, the coach said.
Brown told the media Tuesday: "Obviously, I took some hits in the [Wake Forest] game early, and Coach made his decision. I feel comfortable with my body, I feel good. I can't get into [talking about] injuries or details like that."
Regardless, Brown has been declared unavailable and Caleb Rowe will earn the nod under center.
Considering Brown and Ross were UMD's leading rushers, the Terp ground game could be in trouble against the Tigers.
Week 9: vs. Clemson
Stephen Morris, QB: Probable (Ankle)
Duke Johnson, RB: Probable (Head)
Morris has been hampered by an ankle injury, while Johnson left the Hurricanes' win over North Carolina last week with an apparent head injury.
Phillip Dorsett, WR: Out (MCL)
Second-leading receiver Phillip Dorsett is expected to miss four to six weeks with a partially torn MCL, as reported by the Sun Sentinel.
As a result, the Canes will lean on expanded roles from Allen Hurns, Stacy Coley and others.
Week 9: vs. Wake Forest
Evan Engram, TE: Out for season (Ankle)
Ole Miss has had as much trouble with injury as any team in the country this season and lost yet another key player last week.
Robert Nkemdiche, DE: Out (Hamstring)
Carlos Thompson, DE: Out
Cameron Wigham, DE: Questionable
The defensive end position for Ole Miss has been hit the hardest by injury and Robert Nkemdiche and Carlos Thompson won't return this week, while Cameron Wigham remains questionable.
Kellenberger detailed the defensive end situation for the Rebels, identifying Bryon Bennett, who started last week's win over LSU, as a potential staple at the position going forward.
Serderius Bryant, LB: Probable (Concussion)
Matt Stewart of Comcast Sports Southwest tweeted Thursday that linebacker and leading tackler Serderius Bryant will likely return to action this week.
This comes as excellent news, as Bryant left Ole Miss' loss to Texas A&M with a frightening injury.
Jeff Scott, RB: Questionable (Thigh)
As reported by Kellenberger, head coach Hugh Freeze said that running back Jeff Scott may play this weekend against Idaho, though he will approach the decision with the team's depth and long-term health in mind.
Kellenberger also said Scott practiced Tuesday and he may see action as the team's punt returner this weekend.
Week 9: vs. Idaho
Taylor Martinez, QB: Probable, game-time decision (Toe)
McKewon quoted head coach Bo Pelini saying he believes Martinez will play:
It’ll be a game-time decision of what we’re going to do, but I would anticipate he’s going to play. How much, we’ll see. We’ll be playing it by ear a little bit as to how he feels and how he wakes up tomorrow and how he responds from the week of work he had.
Martinez missed Nebraska's last three games and Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Ron Kellogg III filled in during his absence.
Nebraska will be on the road against Minnesota Saturday for a 12 p.m. ET kickoff.
Week 9: at Minnesota
Kain Colter, QB: Probable (Ankle)
Greenstein credited head coach Pat Fitzgerald calling Colter day-to-day, but Colter said that he won't be held out when the Wildcats take on Iowa this weekend.
Venric Mark, RB: Out (Ankle)
On the other side of the coin, Northwestern's star running back, Venric Mark, will miss more time with an ankle injury, as reported by Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports.
Mark's senior season was once promising, but he has already missed four full games this year and will sit his fifth this weekend.
The Wildcats head into Kinnick Stadium to take on Iowa this weekend at 12 p.m. ET.
Week 9: at Iowa
Louis Nix III, DT: Out (Knee tendinitis)
Christian Lombard, OL: Out for season (Back)
Tommy Rees, QB: Probable (Neck)
Fortuna also reported that offensive lineman Christian Lombard will miss the remainder of the season, as he underwent surgery for a herniated disc.
Finally, Fortuna said that quarterback Tommy Rees is "good to go" for Saturday after straining his neck against USC.
Week 9: at Air Force
De'Anthony Thomas, RB: Probable (Ankle)
He also added that he could have made a return last week against Washington State but elected to wait an extra week to make sure he was fully healed.
Thomas missed the last four games, but it looks like he'll be back for the Ducks' 7 p.m. ET tilt with the Bruins.
Week 9: vs. UCLA
Connor Shaw, QB: Doubtful (Knee sprain)
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is known for being one of the more durable signal-callers in the game, but it doesn't look like his toughness will keep him in action this week against Missouri.
Injury-wise, Connor Shaw is actually walking around a little bit. They’re calling it a knee sprain. No surgery or anything. I’m not sure what his status will be later in the week. He’s obviously not practicing the first two, three days...I would think he would be able to come back. I’m sort of doubtful he’ll be ready to do much this week.
USC has a capable and experienced backup in Dylan Thompson.
Week 9: at Missouri
Devon Cajuste, WR: Out (Knee)
Jordan Williamson, K: Out (Leg)
An Associated Press report (via ESPN) tabbed wide receiver Devon Cajuste and kicker Jordan Williamson as unavailable for the Cardinal's tilt with Oregon State this weekend.
Redshirt freshman kciker Conrad Ukropina will start for the second straight game in Williamson's stead.
Meanwhile, Stanford is expected to lean on Jordan Pratt, Michael Rector and Kodi Whitfield as replacements for Cajuste.
Week 9: at Oregon State
Johnny Manziel, QB: "Hopeful" (Shoulder)
Manziel suffered the injury last week against Auburn but played through noticeable pain.
Considering he played with the injury last week, it would be surprising if he didn't do so again this week. However, Sumlin has been relatively mum on his status.
Week 9: vs. Vanderbilt
Jordon James, RB: Doubtful (Ankle)
Jordon James has proved to be a crippling loss for the UCLA offense, which has hit a considerable lull since his ankle injury sustained against Utah.
The junior has missed the last two games and Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News tweeted that, according to head coach Jim Mora, James isn't likely to play this week against Oregon.
The Bruins were held under 40 points in each of the last three games after eclipsing that mark in the first three with James at full health. With James likely out of the lineup this week, the Bruins' prospects against the Ducks aren't great.
Week 9: at Oregon
Marqise Lee, WR: Questionable (Knee)
Marqise Lee has had a rough season, hampered by his team's offensive struggles and his own injury issues.
He missed the Trojans' win over Arizona but returned the next week in a 14-10 loss to Notre Dame, though he only played in the first half.
Now, USC lists him as questionable, as reported by John Taylor of College Football Talk.
Lee's status is much more important, considering his receiving counterpart, Nelson Agholor, was banged up against Notre Dame as well, as reported by Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.
Week 9: vs. Utah