Football is a Contact Sport

With the recent rash of injuries on the fields of Nutter Training Facility, one would assume that Coach Brooks would be beside himself with worry.

Why wouldn't he? He lost a starting cornerback in spring (Andre Jones) to academics, another starting corner in the offseason (Bo Smith) to a bat, a starting wide reciever (Tommy Cook) to some clingy grass, a starting linebacker for 5 weeks (Dustin Williams) to the air, and has a battalion of starting players without pads, standing on the sidelines each and every day of practice during this fall.

However, Brooks seems to be taking it in stride.

"I'm not concerned about those injuries, they have all been pretty minor."

Pretty Minor?

I also forgot about star Raphael Little being sidelined for the duration of the first two weeks of practice with an offseason knee surgury, a guy who was going to be competing for a starting job this fall.

So in response?

"Football is a contact sport, injuries happen."

Man, I never thought of it like that. Football is a contact sport, and injuries are gonna happen.

Of course Kentucky is not only suffering from injuries, but run in's with the law.

There is Ricky Abren (who appears to almost be in the clear) who needs to pay his traffic tickets, Ryan Schum who needs to stay in Lexington, and the Courier Journal reported just this week that Dustin Williams (whom as stated above is already injured) may have needed a Lexington Leash as well.

But these happenings are not just occurring in the bluegrass state.

USC's (thats University of Southern California) starting tailback was just accused of assault per this last Monday. If charged, he could end up suspended for the bulk of the season, hampering USC's chance at a national championship.

North Carolina lost a starting defensive tackle to, of all things, a torn tendon in his pinky finger. Chase Page will have to sit the remainder of the season simply by having one finger in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Florida has lost two players, linebacker Channing Crowder and Jarvis Herring for the first game of the season due to suspensions.

Tennessee suspended James Banks until Oct. 2nd for doing something stupid.

Virginia Tech suspended starting QB and brotther to Michael, Marcus Vick , for the season due to a team rules violation.

Losing players to injury is common fare in the game of football, but even moreso when considering injuries.

In 1998, an extensive study was conducted covering 33 college football teams and their injuries. In the report, there were 3,176 players in total and 1,007 of them had at least one time-loss injury during the season, that is one-third of the players. There were a total of 1,426 recorded injuries that kept a player out for one day or more, making 44.9 injuries per 100 players.

Injuries in practice accounted for 54.8% of all recorded injuries, and each injury kept a player out for an average of just less than 2 weeks*.

When you see 15 players on the sidelines during Kentucky's practice, they represent only 14.2% of the number of players on the field of practice. (105) I can begin to see why Coach Brooks is not shaking in his boots.

It is true that Kentucky has less depth to make up for an injured athlete, it has been that way for quite some time. But practice does indeed make perfect, and without contact during practice the defense will never continue to get better. The risk of injury is far less of a risk than the risk of having unprepared athletes.

I believe the plethora of missed tackles throughout the Mumme Era can attest to the merit of contact in practice.

Kentucky football has been at, or near the bottom of the SEC for some time. Some of that has to do with the fact that Kentucky doesn't have the same level of athlete the rest of the league suits up, but it also has to do with a lack of toughness. Repetitive lack of depth seems to force Head Coaches into a reactionary frenzy of stupidity that tells them they should be more careful with their star athletes.

This mentality not only hurts the starters themselves, but ill prepares the backups whom given the opportunity to practice day in and day out the rigors of the game of football could become better football players.

Simply stated, without competitive contact practice, and the injuries that come along with it, Kentucky will continue to be exactly where they are now in the world of college football...somewhere next to the middle of nowhere.

*http://www.exra.org/98cpresumm.htm, Eric D. Zemper, Ph.D. c.1998

Jared Bonshire is the assistant editor and chief of Inside Kentucky Media, LLC. He is a current moderator and staff writer for the magazine and the website.


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