CI Takes: Jonathan Williams & Jake Coker Foot Injuries, Northwestern Ruling

    Jonathan Williams out for the year with a foot injury, the Northwestern ruling, and Alabama's Jake Coker's injury

    August 17, 2015

    Arkansas loses RB Jonathan Williams

    @PeteFiutak

    If any team can afford to lose a 1,190-yard, 12-touchdown running back, Arkansas can probably accept the body blow.

    Now that junior Jonathan Williams is gone for the season with a foot injury, Arkansas has to keep on being Arkansas, keep on running the ball behind a line that averages around 6-5 and 320 pounds, and hope the depth is there to keep the plan rolling.

    Under head coach Bret Bielema, Wisconsin had an unstoppable two-pronged running back attack, whether it was Montee Ball and James White – and Melvin Gordon a bit, too. In 2010, White, Ball, and John Clay came four Ball yards away from giving the Badgers three 1,000-yard backs. This year, there was a great chance for Williams and Alex Collins were going to each crank the 1,200-yard mark – and might have each flirted with 1,500.

    Williams was the leader and one of the team’s main spokesman – he was sent to SEC media days as a great representative – but Collins might be the more talented back. Collins – mostly famous for a Signing Day snafu when his mom wanted him to go to Miami – has the upside to carry more of the workload, but for Bielema to recreate the heyday of his Wisconsin tenure, he needs Kody Walker to be the Next Hog Up and produce – he can do it.

    Expect Williams to turn pro next year – he’s considered one of the top five NFL prospect running backs when healthy – and expect Arkansas to keep on rumbling. It’s just going to be a bit more difficult.

    Northwestern players not allowed to unionize

    @PeteFiutak

    Look, this was going to happen, mainly because the first time around was an out-of-left-field – more like left-leaning – ruling, anyway.

    The National Labor Relations Board’s decision to not make do much of anything with the previous ruling allowing Northwestern to unionize means that 1) that college athletes are still considered students and 2) realistically, drops the big one on the idea of players being able to get a truly fair shake and a fair cut of the pie.

    When Kain Colter and former Northwestern players first pushed the envelope, the NLRB – which is made up of five politically-appointed members – came up with a shocker when it opened the door that ruled that college players could kinda, sorta, maybe think about trying to unionize. It was hailed as a landmark decision, mainly because it was the first little ripple into the NCAA’s way of doing things, but there wasn’t any real teeth behind it.

    And it also meant that the next time the issue was going to come up, that door was probably going to be slammed shut.

    The theory was that a more conservative board would’ve said no right away to Colter, and that would’ve been that, but the more progressive board allowed it to go on. This board decided to not really do anything with it, meaning that the fight pretty much goes bye-bye.

    However, this applies to private universities and not state-run institutions – the NLRB’s jurisdiction is only applied to the private schools. Had the NLRB decided to rule in favor of Northwestern – or, more specifically, decided to give the thumbs up – then it would’ve been Game On. If players at Alabama, Michigan, Arizona, etc. want to give it a shot, they can go for it, but it’s a practical and logistical nightmare.

    It was going to take the right climate and a group of players like Northwestern’s to make the change, and now that’s dead.

    Congratulations, NCAA. You have your labor force intact.

    Alabama QB Jake Coker hurt

    @RichCirminiello

    Alabama QB Jake Coker suffered a minor foot injury that’s expected to keep him out of a few upcoming practices. It’s seemingly no big deal, except that the Tide is still searching for consistency out of the position and a leader to step forward, with the Wisconsin opener rapidly approaching.

    Nick Saban is working with a small margin for error at quarterback these days. The offseason has yet to produce a true frontrunner at the most important position on the field, and it’s becoming increasingly likely that the team won’t get another Blake Sims-like performance from behind center. So, any lost time from Coker, the senior among a collection of untested underclassmen, is a big deal for the overall state of the offense.

    The Tide needs Coker back as quickly as possible, and it needs him to take control of this battle once and for all. Every day he misses fouls up the chemistry with the program’s rebuilt wide receiver corps … and increases the likelihood that one of the kids, David Cornwell, Blake Barnett, Alec Morris or Cooper Bateman, will take meaningful snaps versus the Badgers in Arlington.

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