Central Michigan head coach John Bonamego will be the last person on earth to make an excuse for his football team.
When the injury bug strikes, you have to be in a 'next man up' mentality in order to succeed in college football. Playing time, experience and all of the above are important for younger players, but at a certain point when do you feel the breaks aren't falling your way.
Last season, following what may be the biggest road win in program history at Oklahoma State, the Chippewas suffered a pair of season ending injuries to some key players. From there, things spiraled.
This year did not get off to a great start. Senior tight end Tyler Conklin, who many feel has a future in the NFL, fractured his ankle just weeks before the season started requiring surgery. His timetable to return was unknown, and remains unknown. However, a few weeks ago one source said Conklin has been progressing faster than expected, and could even be ready to return for the game at Boston College.
Well, here we are, with CMU facing Boston College and no word yet on the status of Conklin. It's likely he will remain out this week, but a near return is certain and the Chippewas could really use a player of his caliber.
It's been a rough couple of weeks after a 2-0 start. The offense has sputtered, and some of that may be due to injury. In a thrilling 45-27 win over Kansas in week 2, Corey Willis was shown wearing a cast after the game. He suffered a broken hand on a play where he was hit late, resulting in a personal foul penalty. CMU gained the 15 extra yards, but lost it's best playmaker. While his original timetable was about 6 weeks, it appears Willis is also progressing faster than expected and could be back within a week or two.
In that same Kansas game, the Chippewas also lost wide receiver Brandon Childress for the season when he tore his ACL on a fluke celebration after a Chippewa touchdown. Childress had looked great until that point, and fans deemed it to be a big loss.
So you've got a new quarterback in Shane Morris missing 2 of his top 3 wideouts, and his All-MAC tight end heading into week 3 against Syracuse, a team that you have to score in bunches against to beat.
The fact that CMU was tied 17-17 heading into halftime against Syracuse, and maybe even disappointed they weren't leading, shows this is a good football team.
Linebacker Alex Briones, in the midst of a breakout season, was injured in the Syracuse game hurting his shoulder on an awkward play where he hit the turf at a strange angle. However, he later returned and played last week against Miami (OH). But he may have been limited, and that hurts his ability to perform. He's been all over the field for CMU in the early going, and they need him at full health for the defense to succeed.
Injuries play a role on every team in every season, and you truly have to find people who are ready to step up and fill those roles.
But if you want to look at injuries, look no further than CMU's next opponent.
Last week the Golden Eagles of Boston College were already banged up heading into a matchup with No. 2-ranked Clemson. And following the game they added even more names to the injury list.
Here is who the Eagles may be missing this Saturday against CMU:
- Left tackle Aaron Monteiro
- Middle linebacker Max Richardson
- Quarterback Anthony Brown
- Center Jon Baker
- Linebacker Connor Strachan (leading tackler)
- Wide receiver Charlie Callinan
Baker, Strachan and Callinan have appeared in a combined 116 games with 78 starts.
BC head coach Steve Addazio said he is very concerned with the injuries but mentioned he does not know the full extent of them. All of those players listed are starting players, and Addazio said it feels like every week they have to restart.
But he won't be making any excuses, and neither will CMU, as they get set for what is sure to be another physical matchup on Saturday at Boston College Alumni Stadium.