‘Freak accident’ to sideline Cougar for multiple weeks
The Cougars are enduring an injury-plagued season despite all the successes.
Besides Greg Ward Jr.’s nagging shoulder and cornerback Brandon Wilson’s bad ankle, the team announced on Thursday that linebackers Tyus Bowser and Matthew Adams would not be available for the game.
Despite not suffering an injury in the previous game or in practice, it became evident that something peculiar is going on.
Head coach Tom Herman cleared up the speculation in his opening statement of the post-game press conference.
“Yesterday, during our weekly tradition of Family Fridays, where we go out to the field and play some silly games to loosen up, the two got over-competitive,” Herman said. “Things briefly got out of hand during one of the games, resulting in a scuffle between Tyus and Matt — two brothers.”
During Family Fridays — which occurred on Wednesday this week because of the Thursday game —the players engage in team-building activities before doing a light walkthrough. The activities included about 20 minutes of dodgeball, wiffleball and two-hand touch football to loosen the players and evoke their competitive spirit.
Herman called it a “freak accident” that broke a bone of Bowser. Adams experienced no injury, but the coach gave the junior a one-game suspension. Bowser will be sidelined for a few weeks, but Adams should return to action next week.
Herman said that the team’s culture is reflected not in the incident but in the response to it.
“Our culture is one of love, the two are very close and remain very close,” Herman said. “They’re both very remorseful for what happened during yesterday’s incident.”
It will be up to the team to fill Bowser’s void.
Also unexpectedly missing on Thursday was starting running back Duke Catalon. The redshirt sophomore tailback suffered a mild concussion against Texas State last weekend and did not have enough days between games to fully recover.
Herman wanted to be sure of Catalon’s absence before counting him out.
“If (Catalon) continues to progress, I think we’ll have him for Sunday’s practice,” Herman said. “It would’ve been premature to rule him out until I had all the facts. That’s why we didn’t make any statement.”
Even being down multiple players in nearly every game, the team found themselves 5-0 for the second consecutive season.
Being able to replace players that must miss a game, for any reason, is a staple of all good teams. Herman credited his staff with having players ready to take the field at any given moment.
“It says they’re well-coached, and I don’t mean by me, but by our assistants,” Herman said. “They do a great job. In one of our four pillars of success, it is called ‘competitive focus.’ That implements being ready when your number is called.”