A quick look at PAC-12 football injuries prior to opening games

You know how life is. The glitter guys get all the headlines. They strut and rut and make it look so easy. But sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to be a limelighter.

For example, already this month, Don Best is reporting that all PAC-12 injuries to-date are skill guys. It’s enough to think that some PAC-12 skillsters wish they had beefed up as youths and opted to become linemen instead.

It reminds me of John Benfield who once said, “Eagles may soar but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.”

Although Don Best produces reliable information, he doesn’t always have all of it. There are several sources I snoop through and in doing that, I have a pretty good idea who’s in the infirmiry.

So, let’s take a look at how things stand beginning with a freshman from Springfield, Oregon.

Jacob Newell signed with Arizona State in November after being cited as a three-star prospect at Thurston High School. He was unstoppable as a Colt and finished his career in the top 60 of the nation’s tight ends on both Rivals and 247Sports. But, Newell incurred a leg injury on August 8th and will not play a down in 2022.

ASU also reports that defensive end Michael Matus is now out for the season with a leg injury.

Despite those injuries, the Sun Devils will be favored by our Savvy Index in ASU’s opening game next week against Northern Arizona University. 

USC is reporting the loss of tight end Jude Wolfe who was the second-leading receiving tight end for the Trojans last year. Wolfe was expected to receive more passes in 2022 because new coach Lincoln Riley attacks red-zones with tight ends much more than prior coaches at USC.

Despite breaking his foot on August 13th, USC has not listed Wolfe as out for the season. As the fifth-best tight end in the country coming out of high school, his excellent blocking and decent receiving skills are needed.

Although the Trojans still have their top tight end Malcolm Epps, I’m not seeing a lot of effective depth at the tight end position especially for a group that plans to increase its reliance on that position.

There is also speculation that USC defensive standout Korey Foreman may be injured. He was absent from opening week of Fall practice which raised questions with analysts. Riley affirmed that Foreman was not injured but five days later, reversed his statement and admitted that Foreman has a minor injury which he did not describe.

Washington running back Richard Newton left games against Stanford and Cal last year with a knee issue and eventually was sidelined permanently because of it. Despite only playing in four games, Newton averaged the second most number of carries per game and was intended to be the Husky’s primary running back in 2021 so he is an important part of UW’s offensive plans. Although he has attended all Fall practices, his activities have been restricted and his full return is a matter of speculation.

Washington linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio isn’t expected to miss playing minutes but will likely be hampered by an arm injury.

Nonetheless, Washington should be fine it its opener against Kent State since KSU hasn’t beaten a Power Five opponent in more than a decade.

Washington State received bad news last Tuesday when starting guard Rodrick Tialavea and wide receiver C. J. Moore were injured and will be out for the season. Tialavea’s injury will be especially significant since Washington State’s offensive line was 99th-ranked last year and has looked noticeably inadequate so far in 2022 workouts. It’s also terribly thin on experience after the loss of Tialavea, the graduation of two other starters, and the transfer Cade Beresford to Boise State. It has also been reported that top lineman Ma’ake Fifita is wearing a boot to support a lower leg injury.

Oregon State has reported the season-ending injury of back-up linebacker Ryan Franke but expects the return of safety Alton Julian and Isaac Hodgins although Hodgins is not yet 100%.

No other PAC-12 team has reported injuries to any of my information sources.

While I’m at it, let’s take a look at Oregon’s first opponent Georgia because there has been some injury news in Athens.

Arian Smith is questionable with an ankle sprain and important running back Kendall Milton who has missed games the past two seasons was pulled from Georgia’s first Fall practice with a hamstring injury. Although it is not thought to be serious, Milton is listed as questionable against the Ducks according to Covers.com.

Both Smith and Milton are essential for Georgia’s success because 35% of the Bulldog roster is freshmen.

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