Lions overcoming injuries

Much has been made of North Alabama’s injury situation this year and rightfully so. The Lions lost one of their top defensive players before the season even started when safety Nick Williams suffered a torn ACL during the first preseason scrimmage. Senior wide receiver Chris Simpson also torn an ACL during the same scrimmage and had season-ending surgery.

More recently UNA lost startng center Tyler Sizemore for two weeks after he had his appendix removed. Then came another huge blow when senior linebacker Rod Woodson suffered a broken leg against Shorter and also had season-ending surgery.

It’s amazing that injuries always seem to come in bunches. There have been several years where UNA has hardly had a significant injury throughout the entire season. The injuries are esepcially tough this year because the Lions are rebuilding and had very little depth to start with.

It has been amazing, however, to see how this team has responded to the injuries. Williams’ loss was huge, but true freshmen Floyd Jones has stepped in and played really well. Sure, he has made some freshmen mistakes, but he has proved to be a very good tackler and has made a pair of huge interceptions.

Other true freshmen have stepped in at other positions. Brian Barnett started in Woodson’s place last week and had  a nice game in UNA’s 21-16 victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville. Freshman Trey Tidwell has started the past two weeks at center for Sizemore and has handled himself well. Rod Woodson also started a game at tackle in place of Will Furlong and did a nice job.

There is some good news regarding the injuries. Sizemore has been practicing this week and will see some action Saturday against Valdosta State. Wide receiver Brian Sutherland is getting closer to returning after having minor knee surgery. Sutherland, however, will likely be out until the Tarleton State game Nov. 3.

For this UNA team to be 5-1 with this many injuries is very impressive. It says a lot about the job the coaching staff did in signing a quality group of players as well as the job they have done getting these young guys ready to play. The freshmen that have been forced into the lineup have gained valuable experience that should really pay off in the coming years. Williams and Simpson are each planning on coming back next year, so UNA should be loaded in 2013.

Hopefully there will be no more serious injuries this year. But if it happens the coaching staff will just expect another young player to step up and get the job done.

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