BERKELEY -- After posting a sterling health record for all of spring ball and the first eight days of fall camp, California finally got bit by the injury bug, as head coach Sonny Dykes revealed on Wednesday.
One injury suffered on Tuesday (linebacker Nathan Broussard) will likely be season-ending, and a second (running back Jeffrey Coprich) significantly season-shortening, while freshman Quentin Tartabull injured his ACL in the first practice of Wednesday’s double day, and will also likely miss the 2014 season.
Coprich fractured a bone in his foot, and will have surgery on Thursday. He will miss 4-8 weeks, with Dykes hoping he can be back in time for the road game against Arizona.
“The weird thing is that they’re all basically non-contact injuries,” said Dykes. “Jeff planted funny and fractured. We’ll see how the surgery goes. We’ll have a better idea tomorrow on what kind of procedure they do, and how long the recovery’s going to be. We’re saying anywhere between four and eight weeks.”
Middle linebacker Broussard -- who tore his ACL during fall camp last year – will require another surgery on the same knee.
“We’ve got an ACL with him; we don’t know how it happened,” Dykes said. “He had a non-contact injury four days ago, maybe five days ago, where he felt like he tweaked it a little bit, and then had another occurrence [on Tuesday] where he just felt like he tweaked, but didn’t feel like it was anything severe, and then they did an MRI. Two injuries that we thought were both going to be pretty light and insignificant ended up being pretty major.”
Tartabull’s injury occurred in the first practice of the day – another non-contact injury.
“He was cutting and his knee buckled,” Dykes said. “I hate it for those kids, especially for Nate, coming off of that surgery. Quentin was playing really well, was going to have an opportunity to play for us some this year, and Jeff obviously competed at the running back spot.”
There is a bright spot for Coprich, in that Dykes thinks he will be back this season. That’s not the case with the other two.
Broussard had taken a stranglehold on the MIKE linebacker position, but in his stead, others will have to step up, led by Michael Barton, Edward Tandy and freshman Devante Downs, who has seen time with the first-team defense when Broussard has been rested.
“Weve got some options,” Dykes said. “We’ll kind of see how it plays out, but Downs has been solid, so far. He’s been a guy that’s been, for a young freshman, he’s starting to be more and more consistent. Tandy has improved quite a bit, as well. Tandy’s playing in there [at MIKE]. Barton can slide in there, if he needs to. We’re going to continue to see, and there are still a lot of moving parts in there, at linebacker. The good thing is, there’s not that big of a difference, sliding from inside to outside, in what we do. That’s part of the reason Art [Kaufman, defensive coordinator] teaches it the way he does. There’s a lot of carry-over between those spots.”
Hardy Nickerson will also get some consideration at MIKE, after having started much of last season at the position, before sliding over to the outside spot in camp.
“Oh, yeah, Hardy’s going to get some reps in there, as well,” Dykes said. “Hardy got a lot of work yesterday, was a little sore today, but nothing that we didn’t expect. We went light with him today, and we’ll kind of progress him back tomorrow and see if we can push him a little further, just try to keep working.”
Dykes would anticipate that Nickerson – who has been brought along slowly after ending his season with a lisfranc injury – will be physically ready by the opener against Northwestern, which coincidentally lost senior wide receiver Christian Jones this week due to injury. The Wildcats now find themselves without Venric Mark, who, after being suspended for the first two games, has decided to transfer.
“It’ll be just ‘What’s the load?’” Dykes said of how the Bears will measure Nickerson’s participation in the opener. “20 plays or 60 plays or 80 plays – what is it? – I think part of that is what we’re trying to do, just progress him along and see what he can do.”
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