Philadelphia, PA – Injuries are to be expected in a game in which athletes collide with one another for four quarters. Dealing with those injuries before the season even begins can alter team goals.
That is the current plight of the Washington Huskies.
Junior Austin Seferian-Jenkins has had a tough offseason to say the least. The Washington tight end plead guilty to a DUI charge in July and is still awaiting disciplinary action.
This week things took another bad turn for the All-American candidate. During the second practice of the day as part of Huskies' fall camp, Seferian-Jenkins went to catch a pass from quarterback Keith Price. The sure-handed Seferian Jenkins, considered an easy pick to be a Mackey Award finalist, came away from that play with an injury to his right pinky finger.
The Huskies soon confirmed that their star tight end had a fracture in the finger.
While such a small injury may be able to be covered up for a defensive end or an offensive guard, a tight end obviously cannot hope to make much of an impact with a cast on his hand. For Seferian-Jenkins, a player who caught 69 passes for 852 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns last season, making plays in the passing game is his most valuable skill.
Now it seems he will miss some time, and that's not including any possible suspension as a result of his offseason transgressions.
As of now Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian has yet to reveal how extensive the injury is or how long it could keep Seferian-Jenkins out. Speculation is that recovery time could be anywhere from a week to a month.
"Austin's going to be out for quite a while," Sarkisian said. "He actually has a small fracture in his pinkie there that's actually going to require surgery. So he's going to be out for a little...some amount of time."
For a Washington squad that is considered by some to be a dark horse contender in the Pac-12, such an injury could have the Huskies down and out before things even get under way. Other than Seferian-Jenkins, only Kasen Williams (77 receptions, 878 yards, 6 TDs) returns as a proven commodity in the passing game. No other receiver on the roster had more than 16 receptions last season and the entire roster outside of Williams and Seferian- Jenkins combined for just six touchdown catches.
That isn't exactly comforting news for quarterback Keith Price, who is trying to recapture his 2011 form, when he threw for 33 touchdowns and 3,063 yards. Last year those numbers dipped to 19 and 2,728. Losing a safety net like Seferian-Jenkins will be detrimental to that goal, as well as any shot the Huskies have of getting more than seven wins for the first time since 2001, let alone competing in a stacked Pac-12 North.
Washington and the Pac-12 aren't the only ones feeling that type of impact from a key injury.
Even though BYU is no longer a member of a conference, the Independent Cougars lost a big piece of their talented defense earlier this week. Returning starting cornerback Jordan Johnson, an important contributor to the nation's third best defense (266.1 ypg) in 2012, will miss all of 2013 after tearing his ACL during practice.
Though All-American candidate linebacker Kyle Van Noy is the anchor of the unit, losing an experienced player at such a key spot on a defense that had only four returning starters as it is, could lead to a drop off in production and wins. That is especially true considering BYU's schedule as it faces a number of talented quarterbacks and heavy passing attacks in Texas, Houston and Boise State.
Speaking of Texas, Mack Brown hired a new offensive coordinator in the hopes of speeding up the Longhorns' offense this season. The job went to Major Applewhite, who will have Texas working in a furious spread formation. That type of game play requires a quarterback with experience (David Ash) and a slew of weapons for to get the ball to. In that area Applewhite is hitting a bit of a snag.
Though top returning receivers Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis, are returning to health from injuries sustained before camp, they have been limited thus far. That opened up an opportunity for sophomore Marcus Johnson who had been running with the first team. Johnson's progress might be for naught as he left practice on Monday with a knee injury. Texas has yet to release the extent of the injury but losing any offensive weapon will make life difficult for the Longhorns in the new system.
The Longhorns' lack of receiving depth will get them no sympathy from Florida State. The Seminoles do have three of their top receivers from last year back but there isn't much help beyond that. The pool of playmakers was reduced by one when speedster Jarred Haggins suffered a stress fracture in his knee that will force him to miss the season. Florida State moved back into national title contention last year because of its defense and E.J. Manuel carrying the offense. A new quarterback will be broken in this season while the defense has just four starters returning. The ACC is considered a two- horse race between Florida State and Clemson this season. If the Seminoles hope to keep up with Clemson and its high-flying offense, losing depth on offense isn't going to help.
These will be plenty of injuries this season for sure. No year goes by without bumps and bruises, but its the type of injuries that can force players to miss weeks at a time that can have such dramatic consequences, especially when those injuries take place prior to the season-opener.
The silver lining, if there is one, is that it gives backups time to get into gear. However, that is rarely the case. More often than not, the loss of key personnel for an extended period of time takes its toll on a team and in turn the win column.