Oregon running back LaMichael James was having a career night against Cal with 30 rushes for 239 yards and a touchdown.
But a painful-looking elbow injury early in the fourth quarter as a result of an awkward tackle could have nearly ended James’ career in Eugene. James laid on the ground for several minutes, wincing in obvious pain before he was carted off the field with a cast on his right arm.
Watching the injury on replay was tough, and perhaps a little nauseating for those with a weak stomach.
We won’t know the diagnosis right away, or how long James will be out – James says the elbow isn’t broken and ‘not a season-ending injury and I’ll be fine’ – but the injury could be a huge blow to this Oregon team which depended on him for leadership and experience. From an individual perspective, James was having a Heisman-like performance tonight during a game that occupied the college football spotlight. After a slow start in Oregon’s season-opening loss against LSU, James was launching himself back into serious Heisman contention.
Prior to tonight’s game, James led the country in rushing yards per game with 153. He had 166 in the first half of an eventual 43-15 win by the No. 9 Ducks.
Going forward, and depending on James’ timeline for return (if there is a return), the Ducks need to be able to rebound quickly with a game against Arizona State next week. Beyond that, Oregon has enough offensive firepower to get through conference play until the big Nov. 12 showdown at Stanford.
The question will be whether running backs Kenjon Barner and freshman DeAnthony Thomas can take on bigger roles and keep the Ducks’ ground game from missing a beat. Barner did a nice job filling in for James in Oregon’s season opener last year, and Thomas has shown his versatility this season.
Going on the road to play Stanford was already projected to be the toughest game of the year for Oregon. If they have to play without James, it’ll be even more difficult, but Chip Kelly‘s team has the talent to get it done.
LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.
“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).
Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.
In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.
A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.
Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.
Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.
Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.
“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”
It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.
Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.
For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.
Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.
Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)
- Ohio State – 80,134
- Nebraska – 78,312
- Alabama – 74,326
- Penn State – 71,000
- Georgia – 66,133
- Clemson – 60,000
- Michigan – 57,418
- Florida – 48,000
- Auburn – 46,331
- Oklahoma – 43,723
How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.
The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.
You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.
Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia. Nearly four months later, he’s gone.
In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.
“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class. 247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.
The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.