SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/04/2006 03:39:00 AM
Painful Blow for Bush, Cardinals
After suffering a broken leg Sunday, Michael Bush is likely reconsidering his decision to drop out of this year's NFL Draft.
There are devastating injuries, and then there is Louisville losing Michael Bush for the season. A likely high first-round draft choice next spring, the Cardinals tailback broke his right leg after running for 124 yards and three touchdowns in the first half of Sunday night's 59-28 win over Kentucky. Bush, who led the nation in scoring last season while notching 23 touchdowns, figured to be one of the most dominant players in the country this season at any position, and he looked like it against the Wildcats. Sadly, he's likely played his last college game.
No, the Cardinals aren't going to fall apart without him. Their offense has too many other weapons, most notably QB Brian Brohm. And Bush's backup running backs, Kolby Smith and George Stripling, are no slouches themselves; they combined for 156 yards on 21 carries Sunday night. What makes this so sad, however, is what Bush means to Louisville's program.
Bush was the first high-profile local recruit to commit to Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino when he took over in 2003 and has been at the center of their meteoric rise the past few seasons. He had the chance to turn pro after last season but elected to return for a shot at history. With he and fellow Louisville native Brohm both being touted as Heisman candidates, this was to be a dream season for Cardinals fans. Their team may still do well, but a big part of that dream has been crushed.
“It's a very unfortunate part of the game,” Petrino said of Bush's injury. “But it happens all over the country.”
Indeed, Bush's was hardly the only serious injury this opening weekend. Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters, the Tigers' leading tackler last season and a potential All-America candidate, tore his ACL against Florida Atlantic and is done for the year. Making matters doubly worse, Clemson had already lost another starting linebacker, Tramaine Billy, who broke his foot during fall camp. The Tigers still have a lot of talent on defense, but this will be a serious test of their depth, not to mention a fairly major blow to their chances of competing with Boston College and Florida State -- their next two opponents -- in the ACC's Coastal Division.
Elsewhere in that same division, Wake Forest has likely lost QB Ben Mauk for the season to a broken arm. Many felt this would be the junior's breakout season; now the Demon Deacons must depend on a redshirt freshman, Riley Skinner.
It will be interesting to see how all three teams respond. Sadly, in a notably mundane opening weekend, there were seemingly more major injuries than nail-biting contests. Hopefully Miami and Florida State can reverse the trend.
Nice observations on the painful realities that beset us once football season starts. What makes injuries like the one suffered by Michael Bush even worse is the fact that they are truly "class acts" and fine individuals. It says something about the type of competitor someone is when nearly half of the opossing defense walks over to shake Bush's hand as he is carted off the field.
Please keep up the good work and thanks for keeping us informed about the more human side of college football.
The Bush injury will affect Louisville more than you think. He had 23 touchdowns last year, most of them in goalline situations. Now, the Cards have nobody to pound the ball in. Maybe with Brohm and the other runners they can move the ball down the field quickly, but they'd better hope the kicking game is top notch this year.
It looks like West Virginia is already buying their plane tickets to Tempe. The only person standing between them and an undefeated regular season just went out for the season. Congratulations for playing in the Big East! Who knows, maybe UCONN or Syracuse will realize they also have football teams this year. It could happen....
How many games missed due to injury does it take for a school to appeal for a 6th year? A bad break for Clemson and Louisville, but it really seems worse for the players. Bush will go on to the pros, but what about the guys who are done forever? They really deserve to play a year that was taken away from them.
I'm a West Virginia fan, but feel it's awful what happened to Bush (and Waters, Billy, and Mauk), and just hope Louisville doesn't implode before their meeting later this season. I'd like to see a great game! I agree, at this point it's probably his last college game, and that's really unfortunate.
Don't count Louisville out of the Big East race quite yet. They still get WVU at home, and they still have amazing depth in the backfield (Stripling, Smith and Allen) to fill in for Bush. With the threat of Brohm's passing attack to keep defenses honest, those guys will be more effective than people expect. The Big East is still likely to come down to Nov. 2 -- and it won't be in Morgantown this year.
I will be honest. I am a transplant ot Texas and newly crowned UT fan. We blew it with a TO and a timid Defense tonight. The Horns defense looked scard all night long, giving up too much cushion to an overrated Ted Ginn...Gonzales killed them...I will tell you this...OSU is not the best teamt htat I have seen this year. Auburn and USC were more impressive than the Bukeyes. The thing that kills me is that that four letter network all but licks B((*))( on a team that they want to promote as a champion. It gets old....Love your column but please stay away from the scrlet Kool Aid...It is not going to happen.