Monday, July 27, 2009
Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Injury Bugs Bite
The annual Big Ten Media day is taking place this week in Chicago, and the 2009 fall practice for the Michigan Wolverines is only a little over 2 weeks away (August 14).
It’s about this time of year that sports bloggers, mainstream sports media, and partisan fans begin to ratchet up their predictions for the upcoming fall college football season. A good portion of the content centers around what everyone expects to happen. For example, Ohio State is the favorite to win the Big Ten again this year, with Penn State, Iowa, Michigan State and Illinois making up the top half of the Big Ten.
Yet it is not until fall practice begins, when the pads and helmets are strapped on, and the hitting commences that we can start to get real about what’s expected to happen. One of the things college football fans have grown to expect are team injuries. Michigan’s football team has been no exception to this rule. Michigan has already had one injury during Spring Practice this year when veteran quarterback Nick Sheridan went down with a minor leg fracture. The injury bugs were like a plague of locusts last year for Michigan:
Guard Cory Zirbel (knee)
Elliott Mealer (auto accident)
Junior Hemingway (mono)
Carlos Brown (hand)
Brandon Minor (wrist)
Terrance Robinson (knee)
All of these before kickoff of the first game last year versus Utah.
Michigan fans are right to be excited about the 2009 season. There are a lot of young, talented players hitting the Wolverine roster this season, and preliminary indications suggest that a good number will receive early playing time.
There are so many contingencies this year to Michigan’s success on the football field. More of Rich Rodriguez’s spread read option playbook must be unfurled. The Michigan defense, under it’s 4th defensive coordinator over 5 years, must play with greater confidence and competence under new coach Greg Robinson. The quarterbacks must use the talent and experience around them to win and not carry the weight of the entire game on their shoulders alone.
But perhaps the most important thing for the Michigan Wolverines football team in 2009 is that they need to be fortunate. Luck needs to be on their side in the injury department - particularly at quarterback, along the defensive front, the linebackers and secondary positions. Injuries are going to make or break the 2009 football season for Michigan due to the lack of depth at most positions, especially on defense.
If there is any good news to find in terms of future injuries it is that this Michigan football staff is at least coaching for that eventuality by preparing a higher number of players to fit multiple positions, and by coaching up freshmen and sophomores to plug the gaps should they be needed.
I’m very excited that kickoff versus Western Michigan is getting closer by the day. Fans should be mindful of the importance of fall practice developments. I submit that if the Michigan football team can somehow escape the high velocity fall practice sessions injury free, then reasons for optimism this season should be high. If Michigan can stay injury free much of the season, then no rival will be safe, not even those most favored at this week’s Big Ten Media Days.