Just when you were thinking that all the bad things in football are only happening to Kentucky, Arkansas goes and loses their leading tackler to a foot injury.
After seeing player upon player relegated to the sidelines, the Wildcats’ already-young roster is looking borderline pubescent. Granted, any of those guys could pick me up and snap me in half with one hand, but I don’t play football. When you play week after week in the SEC, you quickly find out that young freshmen often don’t cut it. With Max Smith and Patrick Towles out due to various ailments, true freshmen Jalen Whitlow and Jeff Witthuhn (a walk-on) will be bearing the brunt of the weight.
Needless to say, the lineup was looking rough.
But we caught something of a break with the forthcoming absence of Razorback linebacker Alfonzo Highsmith, who’s already tallied 54 tackles this season. It’s never good to be happy when a player gets hurt, and I’m not celebrating the young man getting hurt. We know how bad it sucks. But if we get a lucky break and don’t have to face a great tackler and key part of the defense, it’s not bad sportsmanship to point out that that works in our favor. In addition to Highsmith, Arkansas will be without a pair of fullbacks for the year as well. So we’re not just getting unlucky in Kentucky. It’s happening elsewhere.
I would rather have both teams perfectly healthy going into Saturday’s game: Max Smith, Patrick Towles, AND Highsmith and whoever else the Hogs are missing. It’s the only way to play the game without excuses, and trust me, regardless of the outcome, there will be excuses. From whichever side loses. Anytime a player goes out, it’s easy to use that as an alibi to assuage the pain of a loss. It’s what I did this past week in my Fantasy league with RGIII.
For now, though, it looks like the Wildcats and Razorbacks are pretty even not only points for and points allowed (each averages a ranking of 99th nationally between the two statistics), but also in the “available personnel” department, where both are starting to dig a little deeper than they’d like.
If we want to have any chance of winning an SEC game this year, we have to hope to capiatlize on a teams’ misfortune. Opportunistic and arguably unscrupulous? Yes. Bad sportsmanship? I don’t think so.