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Dick Harmon: Local college football teams suffered a rash of injuries in October

Published: Friday, Nov. 1 2013 5:20 p.m. MDT

Utah State Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton (16) walks back to the locker room after an injury in the first half against BYU at Romney Stadium on Friday, October 4, 2013.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

October is gone. And it’s a good thing for football teams in the state of Utah.

October is the bogeyman for college football injuries, according to experts in the field.

In Utah, October began with Utah State losing its program’s poster quarterback, Heisman hopeful Chuckie Keeton. The month ended with BYU losing three-game starter and second-leading tackler Austen Jorgensen, who had knee surgery to clean up nagging career issues, and punt returner JD Falslev, who broke his hand at a team activity at the Provo Beach Resort.

Why is October the most injury-centric month in a football season?

Jim Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers Association, believes it is likely that October injuries increase from fatigue and teams not adjusting their conditioning programs as the season wears on.

I’m not saying Utah, USU and BYU are not adjusting their conditioning, but you can’t dismiss the fact that October comes at a critical time when bodies are stressed, players get tired, and the fallout of this organized physical fight takes a toll.

Quoted in “The System,” a best-selling book released this fall, Thornton said, "By October, you have to realize they have been through spring conditioning, summer conditioning camp and a season that has hitting, collisions, etc., associated with it and they get tired. Subsequent to all this, the conditioning they get sometimes is not focused on what will prevent these injuries; rather, it is focused only on overall strength and getting ‘big.’”

It’s hard to say that Falslev’s injury came because of fatigue, but it was strange that this slot receiver and punt returner, who’d faced multiple collisions and tackles, would take a freakish spill and break his hand while at a water resort.

Last year, the most publicly viewed injury to a college player happened on national television in Williams-Brice Stadium when South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore took a shot on his knee by Tennessee’s Eric Gordon. The hit buckled Lattimore’s knee like an accordion.

This year at BYU, a veteran member of the team’s medical staff said he can’t remember kneeling this many combined minutes in his career as he’s waited for Cougar players to wake up from being knocked out cold. Those players include running back Jamaal Williams, kick returner Adam Hine, safety Daniel Sorensen and defensive back Mike Hague.

Here’s a rundown of Aggie, Ute and Cougar players who have missed games this past month due to injuries. At Utah, coach Kyle Whittingham does not discuss specifics on injuries, so the Ute report was supplied by Deseret News Utah beat reporter Dirk Facer.

The number of games missed in October are included in parentheses.

UTAH STATE

RB Joe Hill, knee (3 games) — season-ending injury occurred in September

QB Chuckie Keeton, knee (3 games) — season-ending injury occurred in October

S Brian Suite, concussion (1/2 game) — injury occurred in October

LB Jarom Baldomero, hamstring (1/2 game) — injury occurred in October

TE D.J. Tialavea, foot (3 games) — season-ending injury occurred in October

OL Kyle Whimpey, knee (3 games) — season-ending injury occurred in September

UTAH

QB Travis Wilson, sprained index finger (1/2 game)

TE Jake Murphy, broken wrist (4 games)

TE Westlee Tonga, leg (4 games)

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