One team is in College Football, the other in the NFL. A major injury has the same impact on both, as the Ohio State Buckeyes probably lose quarterback Braxton Miller for the entire season, while the Arizona Cardinals will have to do without Darnell Dockett, their excellent defensive tackle, after he tore his ACL.
Like last year, the Buckeyes entered the season as the favorites to win the Big Ten, hoping to find themselves among the four teams selected for the first College Football playoffs. They got the #5 preseason rank on the AP Poll, which as well all know, isn’t very accurate by the time the final rankings are published. Still, considering their only real rivals for the crown were once again going to be Michigan State, this was another season with plenty of hope for the Buckeyes going in.
Miller, entering his senior year at Columbus, has been selected as the Big Ten quarterback of the year over the last two seasons. He’s one of the top Heisman Candidates in 2014, or at least was. He underwent a shoulder injury in February, and now has re-injured his shoulder, the same one he hurt in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson seven months ago. Ohio State still don’t know for how long he’ll be out, but the fear is that he’s gone for the season. Kenny Guiton was a more than solid backup last season when Miller went down, and now the eyes seem to be directed at redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, although he is in a race with Cardale Jones, a sophomore, for the starting spot.
So while the Buckeyes are hoping this season isn’t going to become something of a disaster, the Arizona Cardinals now have to scramble and find a solution to losing a three-time Pro Bowler in Dockett, who has been playing defensive tackle (defensive end in a 3-4 defense) exclusively over the last three seasons after most of his career attacking quarterbacks from the edges of the defensive line.
The 10-year veteran injured his knee during a practice session, and now won’t be able to help a defense that was ranked sixth in the NFL last season, carrying high hopes into this year after almost making the playoffs last season in the very tough NFC West.
With Dockett now out of the running, it probably means more playing time for Frostee Rucker, a veteran who didn’t play much last season, with rookies Ed Stinson and Kareem Martin trying to improve their standing with the team through this injury.