Duke & Northwestern suffer crushing injuries

Published on Monday, 8/18/14, at 6:15 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Duke is coming off a double-digit win season and a trip to the ACC Championship Game. With eight starters returning on offense and six on defense, there were high hopes for the 2014 campaign coming into training camp. The likelihood of the Blue Devils winning the ACC Coastal again, however, has taken a major hit with a pair of injuries in the past week.

Kelby Brown, Duke’s starting middle linebacker who earned first-team All-ACC honors last year, tore his ACL and was lost for the season last week. Then today came the news that senior TE Braxton Deaver also sustained a season-ending ACL tear.

Duke LB Kelby Brown is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Duke LB Kelby Brown is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Deaver, a third-team All-ACC pick in 2013, had 46 receptions for 600 yards and four touchdowns. Brown had 114 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and eight QB hurries.

Northwestern went 10-3 straight up and 11-1-1 against the spread in 2012 and had high expectations for the 2013 season. But the Wildcats couldn’t buy a break, lost four one-possession games (five really if you count the Ohio St. game that had the unfathomable defensive TD on the last play of the game) and limped to a 5-7 SU record and a 3-9 ATS mark.

The absence of Venric Mark, who led the Big Ten in all-purpose yards in 2012, was a big reason for Northwestern’s demise. The speedy RB and special-teams dynamo hurt his ankle in the opener at Cal. He returned in the wrong-side ATS defeat to Ohio St., only to hurt the ankle again at Wisconsin the following week. Mark was given a redshirt and was expected to return to form this year.

That won’t happen at Northwestern, though. After being issued a two-game suspension last week, Mark decided to leave the team for “personal reasons.” If that wasn’t enough of a blow for Pat Fitzgerald and Co., last year’s leading WR Christan Jones was lost for the season to a knee injury.

Jones had 54 catches for 668 yards and four TDs in 2013.

In other injury news coming down today, Florida freshman DT Thomas Holley was lost for the season to hip surgery. The procedure was prompted by lingering soreness that stemmed from a sports hernia suffered in high school. Holley was a five-star recruit who was ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 51 player in the 2014 class.

Also, Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell remains a question mark for next week’s opener vs. Clemson in Athens. He was injured in the team’s first practice earlier this month. Mitchell missed nearly all of last season after getting injured in the opener at Clemson during a TD celebration.

Oklahoma has announced the season-long suspension of freshman RB Joe Mixon, who was a five-star recruit and the prize of the Sooners’ 2014 class. Mixon was involved in an offseason incident that resulted in assault allegations and a misdemeanor battery charge. As for LB Frank Shannon, OU’s leading tackler last year, his status remains in doubt. He was suspended for the season by the school, but that decision is now being appealed since the off-the-field allegations against him didn’t lead to criminal charges.

Dorial Green-Beckham, the star WR who was booted from Missouri’s program in the spring, continues to await word from the NCAA on whether or not he’ll be able play immediately for Oklahoma. If ‘DGB’ and Shannon are eligible, I expect to see the Sooners in the national semifinals.

You can check out my twitter feed for lots of other key injuries over the last two weeks. Also, it’s time to get signed up for a season pack in college football with Week 1 getting underway in just 10 days.

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