The top two teams in the Big 12 North have both suffered concerning injuries early in camp that have changed each's plans for their season openers on Sept. 4.
Nebraska's Mike Smith suffered the worst injury, a broken leg, in Tuesday's workout, Huskers coach Bo Pelini confirmed on Wednesday.
Smith had moved between center, left guard and left tackle throughout camp, but Pelini was confident in his unit despite being forced to play without Smith for 2010.
“We still have great competition,” Pelini told reporters after Wednesday's practice. “Really, not much has changed. Mike was kind of a swing guy. We were moving him to a number of different positions. So really, not a lot has changed.”
Smith's injury came a day after left tackle Yoshi Hardrick had to be taken to the hospital via ambulance after practice, presumably due to issues relating to the triple-digit heat in Lincoln. Hardrick attended but sat out Tuesday's and Wednesday's practices, and is expected to return Thursday.
Also, I have no plans to ever use his given name, "Jermarcus," in the forseeable future. The origin of the nickname? Yoshi's older brother (and I stress I am not making this up) is named Mario, and the two were extremely close growing up in Batesville, Miss. I'm not sure I've ever loved a nickname -- or it's roots -- more than that.
Missouri's Jerrell Jackson suffered a less-serious but more impactful injury in Tuesday's practice. The Tigers' leading returning receiver, Jackson broke a scaphoid bone in his left wrist on the end of a long catch-and-run and will miss an estimated four weeks. Three weeks from Saturday, Missouri opens its season in St. Louis against Illinois.
Though Jackson holds the distinction of the team's leading receiver, it's hardly a major blow for the Tigers. Junior Wes Kemp is just as experienced and had nice numbers (23 rec, 418 yards, 3 TDs vs. Jackson's 37 rec, 458 yards and 2 TDs). Additionally, Jackson's absence only provides more opportunity for T.J. Moe, who, by all accounts, has been one of the team's most consistent receivers after catching just two balls in 2009.
In the spring game, he caught 12 balls for 85 yards and the Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter predicted in his blog earlier this week that Moe would lead the team in receptions this season. Consider the odds helped a bit with the injury.
Most importantly, even if Jackson's recovery is slowed, opening 4-0 shouldn't be difficult for Missouri. They open with Illinois, who colleague Adam Rittenberg placed 11th in his preseason Big Ten power rankings. The Tigers' next three games are snoozers against McNeese State, San Diego State and Miami (Ohio). So, the situation could be worse for Missouri, who is also missing linebackers Luke Lambert (knee) and Will Ebner (hamstring) with minor injuries. Both should return soon.
Of more concern is safety Jarrell Harrison's torn meniscus, which abbreviated one of the featured position battles in Missouri's camp.