A year ago Indiana had 32 players miss at least one game with an injury.
On Friday night against Illinois, it looked like the Hoosiers might hit that number in week one.
Down they went as the game progressed, and it wasn’t just any players. Several of IU’s veteran stars and leaders had concerning moments on the field during an especially physical contest.
The start of the game could not have been any more inauspicious.
Starting running back Shaun Shivers was blasted on IU’s first offensive play of the season. He dropped to the field and missed time before returning.
Starting tight end A.J. Barner and starting wide receiver Cam Camper both limped off. Starting right tackle Matthew Bedford went down as well.
That was just the offense, and just the ones we noticed.
Starting cornerback Tiawan Mullen appeared to require attention on the sideline at one point. Starting safety Devon Matthews hobbled off in the first half and did not return. Starting tackle Demarcus Elliott was down on the field for a while before walking off, and his fellow lineman and probable starter James Head, Jr. was out before the game ever began.
And of course starting linebacker Cam Jones suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury. He left the game to be examined in the training room before returning.
Indiana had five captains for the game on Friday, and only Jack Tuttle, who didn’t play, managed to completely avoid injury.
But in the end, it appears IU was fairly fortunate on the injury front. While Allen announced on Monday four-year starting tackle Bedford was lost for the season due to a torn ACL, that appears to be the only injury of the season-ending variety. And perhaps the only one of any real significance.
The Indiana head coach was asked about the health of the team on Monday.
“James Head is day to day. Hoping to get him back soon. It definitely will not be long term but couldn’t go this weekend. Excited to get him back. He had a tremendous off season,” Allen said.
“Cam Jones, he’s going to be fine. The guys that were injured during the game … there are some guys that will be day to day. Figure out if they can play again next week and hopefully we can and get us back to full strength as much as possible.”
If Indiana is going to have a week during the season when an inordinate number of its star players need an extra day or two, this is probably it.
Next up is Idaho, an FCS team from the Big Sky Conference. It could be tempting to let a few guys continue to recover, but the Vandals did give Washington State all they could handle in week one, losing just 24-17 on the road despite being a 28-point underdog. Indiana defeated Idaho 56-14 a year ago in Bloomington, but opened as just 21-point favorites this year.
The Hoosiers and Vandals kick at 8 p.m. Eastern on Saturday (BTN).
Note: Some additional players who did not dress for the opener against Illinois were running back Trent Howland, wide receiver David Baker, tight end Ryan Miller, wide receiver Jaquez Smith, and offensive lineman Randy Holtz.
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