The Bison football team flew to Dallas this morning, bussed to its team hotel in Frisco and a few hours later were on the practice field near Toyota Stadium. The workout was closed to the media, so we don’t know how Ty Brooks looked, how cornerbacks Jaylaan Wimbush and Jalen Allison were running or if Lance Dunn even suited up. All four were injured in some fashion heading into Saturday’s title game against James Madison University. The corners have or had knee injuries, Brooks suffered a shoulder injury in the semifinal win over Sam Houston and Dunn injured his hip halfway through the season.
We may not know if one or all will play until game time because both head coaches are in no mood to reveal the status of their respective team’s injuries. This isn’t the NFL, where it’s required.
So here’s the question: Does it really matter?
Let’s take NDSU. In the case of the corners, and if you talk to a couple of former college quarterbacks, it probably doesn’t matter much to JMU. The Bison defensive scheme hasn’t changed in years and if anything, if true freshman Josh Hayes is in the lineup, you may see the Dukes try to pick on the youngster but with three weeks to prepare, that decision has already long been made. Marquise Bridges, the other Bison corner, has risen to the level of being just as capable as the two starters as evidenced by his two interceptions against Sam Houston.
Dunn hasn’t played since mid-October against Western Illinois, so not sure how much of a factor he could be anyway. That’s a long layoff, a long time to not be in game shape. So whether Dunn plays or not may not factor much into the JMU defensive game plan anyway.
Brooks is a different deal. He’s a different type of player, a fast, shifty running back who the Bison may use in different formations than the other backs. If I’m JMU, the one guy I would want to know who is playing is Brooks. He has a different gear than Bruce Anderson, Seth Wilson and Dunn. Brooks is a natural with the NDSU three-back NASCAR package, one that has been so productive in the last couple of years. Again, if you’re JMU, working against that look in practice takes time — and it would probably be nice for the Dukes to know if the Bison sophomore is playing or not.