Rhoads: ‘We might be in decent shape’ regarding injuries

Jeremiah Davis

Through four games of the 2011-12 football season, the ISU football team is seeing the injuries start to add up.

Just against No. 11 Texas on Saturday, the Cyclones saw left tackle Kelechi Osemele go out late in the game when he reaggrivated a right ankle sprain, right tackle Brayden Burris to a broken leg, and cornerback Leonard Johnson leave the game on a stretcher.

But if you ask coach Paul Rhoads, he believes his team is not in danger or suffering by any means in terms of injuries.

“We’ve played four games, we’ve had an open date, we’ve had training camp. I don’t know how we stack up against others, but we might be in decent shape when you compare us,” Rhoads said. “Injuries are part of the game. The better your program is, the more depth that you have, the better you’re able to overcome [those injuries.]”

The depth that Rhoads talked about is evident in the offensive line — something Rhoads admitted did not exist in years past — where almost all the offensive linemen have missed time this season due to injuries.

Rhoads said having guys they can rotate in and out and still see success has been key to the Cyclones’ 3-1 start.

“The good thing is, with [having injuries early] we got some depth established,” Rhoads said. “We’re glad we’ve got the depth this year that we have not had in the past.”

The third-year coach said that as of now, even though multiple players went out of the game Saturday with some injury or another, Burris is the only one who won’t be able to return this Saturday in Waco, Texas, against No. 25 Baylor.

Rhoads said he’s “hopeful by Saturday that everyone will be out there and [ready to] play.”

Following the weekly Sunday night practice, he said everyone who was injured Saturday night took part in workouts, including Johnson, who went down following a scary helmet-to-helmet hit with teammate Stephen Ruempolhamer.

Johnson said Sunday night he’s feeling better following a few tense moments on the field.

“I feel a lot better than I did [Saturday night],” Johnson said. “I feel pretty good. I’m just sore, real sore. It’s more soreness than anything. Mentally I’m over the accident out on the field.”

Johnson said he was conscious on the field and, despite feeling ‘awkward’ and ‘tingly,’ hoped for a short time he would actually be able to return to the game. Trainers and medical staff decided to take him to the hospital as a precaution.

The focus for Johnson now, he said himself, will be to get back on the field and play as he always has while being mindful of the consequences.

“I just love playing football,” Johnson said. “It’s just a part of me. It comes with the game. I signed up for that kind of stuff. You can’t play timid just because something like that happens. It’s not going to take away from who I am and what I do on the field.”