Injuries to star players piling up in Pac-12
PHOENIX (AP) Not long after his team's loss to its biggest rival, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez got a little emotional while talking about the Wildcats' litany of injuries this season.
''When a coach says those things it sounds like excuses, but the reality is that it has been a challenge since week one,'' he said after the 52-37 loss to Arizona State on Saturday. ''I told the team in the locker room, if nothing else they showed they had some competitiveness today.''
Rodriguez and the Wildcats are not alone.
Injuries are a part of football, but this season the violence seems to have claimed an inordinate amount of big-name players.
Here's a rundown of some of the more prominent Pac-12 players to suffer serious injuries this season:
Scooby Wright, Arizona. If there was one injury that set the Wildcats back the most, it was to Wright. He was an All-American last season, swept every major national defensive award and was the unquestioned leader of Arizona's defense. This season, Wright finished with eight total tackles in two games as Arizona scrapped to become bowl eligible. Wright tore cartilage in a knee in the opener and missed two games after having surgery, then injured his foot the first game back. He hasn't played since, but is hoping to be ready for Arizona's bowl game. Wright's backup, Cody Ippolito, also tore his ACL before the season started and third stringer Haden Gregory missed a month with a knee injury.
Myles Jack, UCLA. Strong and agile, he had the ability to fight off linemen and the quickness to cover receivers in the open field. He also was UCLA's go-to back in short-yardage situations as a hard-to-bring down fullback. But Jack only lasted three games this season before being knocked out by a season-ending knee injury. He's only a junior, but withdrew from school to concentrate on rehabilitation and to get ready for the NFL draft.
Devontae Booker, Utah. The senior running back gave the Utes offensive balance, ranking second in the Pac-12 in rushing touchdowns and third in rushing yards through the first 10 games. But when he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee against Arizona on Nov. 14, it left a huge void. Utah had 307 total yards last week in a 17-9 loss to UCLA that dropped it out of the Pac-12 South race and out of the AP Top 25. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said last week that Booker will not recover in time for any bowl game, either. He leaves Utah as the school's third-leading career rusher with 2,773 yards.
Byron Marshall, Oregon. Marshall led Oregon in rushing in 2013 and receiving last season, so the Ducks were hoping to rely heavily on him this season. He ended up playing four games before suffering a serious knee injury against Utah. The Ducks struggled with him out and quarterback Vernon Adams dealing with a hand injury, but have played better the last half of the season after Adams healed. Marshall could apply for a medical hardship waiver and return next season.
Sefo Liufau, Colorado. With 2,418 passing yards this season, the junior was 13 shy of setting the school's career mark. He'll have to wait until next season now after a sack against Southern California on Nov. 13 left him with a broken left foot. Liufau's injury is expected to take six to eight months to heal and he expects to be back in Boulder.
Luke Falk, Washington State. The Pac-12's leading passer was carted off the field after taking a blow to the head against Colorado last Saturday. Cougars athletic director Bill Moos told a radio show this week that Falk's injury did not appear to be season-ending, so there is a chance he could play in this week's Apple Cup game against Washington.