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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

RBs Brandon Bourbon, Taylor Cox to miss 2014 KU football season

Senior running backs Brandon Bourbon, left, and Taylor Cox.

Senior running backs Brandon Bourbon, left, and Taylor Cox.

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What once was a position of strength for the Kansas University football team quickly has transformed into one of the team's least experienced units.

KU coach Charlie Weis announced Tuesday night that senior running backs Brandon Bourbon (torn ACL) and Taylor Cox (torn Achilles' tendon) both will miss the 2014 season after suffering injuries during preseason camp.

“I feel bad for both Brandon and Taylor,” KU coach Charlie Weis said in a press release. “They were looking forward to the opportunity to be the replacement for James Sims. I sat down with each of them individually and talked through their options and was happy that they chose to further their education while attempting to play again next year if things work out.”

The injuries — Bourbon went down during Sunday's scrimmage and Cox at Monday's practice — bump three newcomers into pivotal roles in their first seasons as Jayhawks, as freshman Corey Avery (5-foot-10, 195 pounds) and junior-college transfer De'Andre Mann (5-9, 198) vault to the top of the depth chart and freshman Joe Dineen, a Lawrence native and Free State High graduate, moves over from safety to provide depth.

Off the Deep End

Here's a look at KU's projected running back depth entering the summer and what happened to each back:

• Sr. Brandon Bourbon — Torn ACL, out for season

• Sr. Taylor Cox — Torn Achilles' tendon, out for season

• Jr. De'Andre Mann — Competing for No. 1 spot on depth chart

• Jr. Darrian Miller — Left team for personal reasons, later transferred to Northern Iowa

• Fr. Corey Avery — Competing for No. 1 spot on depth chart

• Fr. Traevohn Wrench — Failed to qualify academically, enrolled at Butler Community College

Tale of the Tait

Check out Matt Tait's reaction to the news of injuries forcing Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox to miss the 2014 season.

Tale of the Tait: Latest KU football injury news as unfair as it gets

“I surveyed our roster and felt Joe was the best answer to help offensive depth, while not greatly hindering the defense,” Weis said of the 6-2, 210-pound former Firebird. “He and I met after practice Monday and I gave him the choice. He was happy to move in the best interest of the team.”

The injury is the latest in a long line of medical issues that have plagued Bourbon, a 6-1, 225-pound Potosi (Missouri) High graduate who initially committed to Stanford out of high school and turned 23 years old on Tuesday.

He broke his leg during his first spring on campus and red-shirted his first season in 2010. He missed the final three games in 2011 with another leg injury and sat out the TCU and Kansas State games in 2012.

Finally healthy, Bourbon played in all 12 games last season but split time between running back (191 yards and 3 touchdowns on 41 carries) and receiver (102 yards on 20 receptions) while watching Sims lead the team in rushing for the fourth consecutive season.

As for Cox, the 5-11, 212-pound back played in all 12 games as a junior in 2012 after transferring to Kansas from College of the Siskiyous but played in just two games in 2013 and red-shirted the season after injuring his hamstring.

Although Bourbon and Cox both will be in street clothes this season, both figure to help mentor the trio of newcomers who will be asked to replace them.

“While De’Andre and Corey lack experience on the Division I level, they both have had excellent camps,” Weis said. “The team is well-aware of this situation and is excited to make the run game successful.”

Said Bourbon in an interview last week: “I enjoy De'Andre and Corey Avery, and we're just trying to get them knowing what we're doing, as well.”

That becomes even more critical now as Bourbon and Cox head to the bench, leaving running-back-turned-wide-receiver Tony Pierson as the only player on the KU roster with Div. I experience at the position.

Weis, through the depth chart or his news conferences, has said that all four guys were in the mix with the first team and that he felt great about the team's depth and talent at running back.

“It'll be, 'Let's see who the best guy is,'” said Weis on the opening day of preseason camp. “Before you even get to Corey Avery or putting Tony in the backfield a little bit, I mean, there's a lot of people that would be very happy having those guys in competition for their No. 1 running back.”

Now, it's crucial for the Jayhawks to show that their coach's faith in that depth was warranted.

In addition to rehab, next up for Bourbon and Cox is the pursuit of a sixth season of eligibility via a medical hardship waiver. Typically, college athletes are given five years to complete their four years of eligibility, however a request for a sixth season can be granted if an athlete fits the criteria.

Such criteria includes: suffering the injury during one of his or her four seasons of college eligibility; suffering a season-ending injury; suffering the injury prior to the second half of his or her season; and the athlete may not have competed in more than three games or 30 percent of his or her team's season, whichever is greater.

All aspects of the criteria must be proven with documentation. If they are, the success rate for obtaining a hardship waiver is high when athletes miss one or more seasons because of “circumstances beyond his or her control or the control of the institution,” as Bourbon and Cox's two most significant injuries have been.

Comments

Chris Bailey 5 years, 3 months ago

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kevin Randell 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh wow...... Well, this is where the young guys step up. Good thing Avery put on 25 pounds. He will need to carry a much larger road.

David Leathers 5 years, 3 months ago

Avery did not put in 25 lbs. He was listed as 185 in high school.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 3 months ago

From http://www2.kusports.com/news/2014/aug/11/updated-roster-shows-big-gains-several-ku-football/?football

"The weights that changed were from their most recent weigh-in and differed from what was listed on signing day last February, before many of the players arrived in Lawrence and began working with KU strength coach Scott Holsopple. Here's a quick rundown of the players whose listed weight changed: ... Freshman running back Corey Avery up 25 from 170 to 195"

Kevin Randell 5 years, 3 months ago

What I meant to say.....is we will be fine.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

Different scouting services update their information at different times so stuff like that can vary from Rivals, ESPN, Scout, etc.

Jim Erickson 5 years, 3 months ago

Heights and weights always seem to be a bit off on football rosters. I've been 6 feet tall only once in my life; the high school football roster. :)

David Kemp 5 years, 3 months ago

Great just great. What else can happen?

Micky Baker 5 years, 3 months ago

Pierson can be used out of the backfield on minute's notice. At least this happened now so that he can prepare himself mentally for that possibility.

Lance Cheney 5 years, 3 months ago

He might be used sparingly back there, but why would you put a guy, who is one hit away from having his career ended due to concussions, at the position that takes the most hits?

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

Tony Pierson isn't moving back to RB. His concussion history makes it too big a risk to have him suffer another season ending concussion. You might see him run some end arounds or motion into the backfield on occasion, but Pierson isn't moving back to RB. Weis has already said that Joe Dineen is moving over to RB to help with the depth.

Brandon Correll 5 years, 3 months ago

Different offense this year. Spread offense opens things up, not a lot of up the middle type runs so I think Pierson could handle the RB position.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

It doesn't matter what the offense is, RB's take a lot of hits and all it takes is one hit and Pierson's career is over. A concussion is not something you ever fully heal from. Once you have the first one, you are much more likely to suffer more. Pierson will take significantly fewer hits as a receiver and KU's offense is much more dangerous with him on the field than on the sidelines in sweats.

Micky Baker 5 years, 3 months ago

That's a bit of irony, since he got his only concussion as a wide receiver.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 3 months ago

Not sure what's so funny about two young men having season-ending injuries. Unless of course you're from Manhattan or Columbia where they have twisted and cruel senses of humor.

Micky Baker 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't wanna burst your bubble, but Keith Olberman is one of the worst people in the world.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

That depends on ones political leanings. He's a hero to a lot of liberals just like Bill O'Rielly is to a lot of conservatives.

Micky Baker 5 years, 3 months ago

Bill Oreilly isn't a hero to conservatives.

I've had conversations with Olbermann. He's a very evil person.

Micky Baker 5 years, 3 months ago

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11381298/mike-carey-asked-washington-redskins-games-due-nickname

That's why Olberman is one of the worst people on the planet.

He lied about most that. The Boston Braves didn't change their name, the franchise moved to different city. Olberman is one of the worst people on the planet.

Micky Baker 5 years, 3 months ago

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11381298/mike-carey-asked-washington-redskins-games-due-nickname

That's why Olberman is one of the worst people on the planet.

He lied about most that. The Boston Braves didn't change their name, the franchise moved to different city. Olberman is one of the worst people on the planet.

Gavin Fritton 5 years, 3 months ago

Suggested marketing slogan:

Kansas Football: We Can't Have Nice Things

Bryce Landon 5 years, 3 months ago

I sure hope the NCAA does the right thing and gives Bourbon and Cox a sixth season of eligibility.

In the meantime, we find ourselves standing at the banks of the "What-Do-We-Do-Now River". These injuries could make a difference between being bowl eligible or being bowl wallflowers for the 6th year in a row.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

This sucks for Cox and Bourbon, but if there was one position group that could absorb a blow like this and have minimal impact on the field on Saturday's, RB's were it. How big is signing DeAndre Mann now. That signing, at least for the short term, has turned into the most important signing this offseason for KU. DeAndre Mann came here because he wanted to challenge himself to win the starting job, now it's time to step up and be the man. Coaches, players, and media have all been raving about Corey Avery's playmaking ability all camp, now we get to see why schools like Baylor, LSU, Nebraska, Ohio St., and Texas all offered Avery a scholarship a year earlier than expected. Joe Dineen, you now have a chance to become a cult hero in Lawrence being a hometown boy. Carpe Diem Joe.

On paper, I love the different styles that Mann and Avery bring to the table. It's reminiscent of B-Mac and Jake Sharp in 2007 with the thunder (Mann) and lightning (Avery) dynamic between the two backs. I'm also now curious to see what Joe Dineen brings to the table as a RB. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Dineen a QB at Free State?

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 3 months ago

This is the true meaning of next man up. Mann, Avery and now Pierson are the running game. Anyone else needed means we really are in trouble.

Doug Cramer 5 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe this.

Miller, Wrench and now Bourbon, and Cox. How do we lose 4 runningbacks in a span of a few weeks ?

Bourbon and Cox - hope you guys fully recover and are back next season.

Have been waiting 4 years to see Bourbon explode with his abilities.

Jim Erickson 5 years, 3 months ago

The Kansas offense absolutely cannot afford to be one dimensional.

Pierson needs to have a presence in the backfield, even if that means giving him +10 carries a game. Let's hope Mann is good. Avery sounds intriguing but giving 20 carries a game to a true freshman generally isn't a great idea (with some notable exceptions).

Even if Pierson plays mostly out of the backfield, we may still have receiver depth with Harwell, Coleman, and hopefully an improved McCay and Mundine.

Jim Erickson 5 years, 3 months ago

If OCJR wants to continue to run the ball 30 times a game, it may be Cozart and Pierson both taking 10 carries with Mann and Avery splitting the other 10. That could still allow Pierson to line up at WR.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 3 months ago

I feel really bad for both guys. Cox looked so promising two years ago when he was backing up Sims and Pierson. He wanted to play out his final year of eligibility last season until his torn hamstring sidelined him and Weis held him out the rest of the year. Now he's out another year. Bourbon seemed destined to be a star when he arrived. He was one of the reasons that Toben Opurum, after leading the team in rushing, moved to defense. But he's had bad breaks at every turn along the way.

I really hope that these two can come back and play out a full season next year. Both guys have looked like pro-RBs at times when they've been healthy.

Kevin Robert Fest 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm crushed. Miller transfers, Wrench doesn't qualify academically. Now this. Oh boy what was going to be a long season is going to be a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGG season. I'm sorry but Avery and Mann may be talented I'm sure of that but without big time Div 1 experience they are going to have major growing pains on the field, also with our NEW system and an inexperienced QB this could be a mess. Cox and Bourbon's experience surely would have helped Cozart. I was hoping they could have sometime to ease Avery and Mann into the system but that's out the window. I hope Dineen can step up but he was a QB in high school and not a natural running back. But good for him for stepping up and doing what the team needed. Pierson does not need to be in the backfield with his concussion problems he needs to stay at WR and take as little head shots as possible. Putting him at RB wont lesson his chances of getting his bell rung. Great talent but he is prone to concussions not his fault. Look like Weis is certainly going to need to step up the recruitment of top talent running backs. This stinks I was cautiously optimistic but now 2 wins would be a good year, this is just too much for such a young team (meaning young talent at key positions) to overcome. The defense cant go through another year of the offense going 3 and out and taxing the defense all game.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

RB is generally the easiest position to transition to a higher level of competition.

Brandon Mahon 5 years, 3 months ago

The Bad news= No D1 experience

Good News= RB is a natural position, all you have to do is learn terminology and be able to read your blocks. Yeah there are growing pains like every position but good news also is that we brought in the new OC and every offensive player is starting out fresh and is new to the offense. We may see growing pains all over the lineup and you will see the players who really caught on

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 3 months ago

These two were gone after this season if healthy anyway. Not sure how this changes recruiting.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

It doesn't change. Stuff like this is why you need depth across the board. Lack of depth is what can topple the power programs as well. If you go look at the anomaly bad seasons at power programs, you will likely find that not having the depth to withstand injuries was a significant factor.

Terry N Tom Denner 5 years, 3 months ago

Now that this has all happened this will or at least should make some of you that has been bitching about not using new comers so they can develop. Both Bourbon & Cox has been injury prone every year. So this should not come as any surprise. Fast recovery to them both and hope for next year as a successful running backs.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

These injuries don't change my opinion that you redshirt as many freshmen as possible. These injuries do change the fact it's no longer possible to consider redshirting Avery and Dineen because they are now needed to step up and play immediately.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

Does Ohio State have a poor S&C program as well?

Jay Beakum 5 years, 3 months ago

Worst news ever. I just talked to those guys at the fan day and wished them luck. (If you are superstitious like me, you can slap me next time you see me.)

They were more than ready to lead the rushing attack. I’m really bummed for them, and I hope beyond hope that they are granted a 6th season.

I talked to Ed Fink too, and asked if he thought he might get a few carries this season like he did in the spring game. He said he sure hoped so and that he was ready if they needed him.

Another guy that got some carries in the spring game was Aaron Plump. Another freshman, yes, but he’s a big body they can throw in there. He looks more than capable of taking some carries and grinding out some yards.

Preston Randall is a sophomore that nobody knows, who could run in a pinch.

The one guy though, that I thought might make the switch back to offense, is Colin Spencer. Aside from Tony Pierson, he might be the fastest and most elusive guy on the team. He has RB experience and he’s been a year with Holsopple. The only reason I can think of that they would choose Dineen over him would be because Colin has been so valuable at NB.

Tevin Shaw was also a standout RB in high school and could’ve played there if we didn’t have such depth at the time.

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 3 months ago

My guess is Mann gets first crack at being the every down back with Avery being the backup/change of pace back. Would not surprise me to see Pierson get a few carries on sweeps and reverses etc, but I would not be shocked if we see someone from the defense start practicing on both sides of the ball just in case. I don't know who it might be, but these things do happen. Cozart needs to be the man this year even more so now.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

Joe Dineen is the one moving over to offense. He was originally going to redshirt this year because the staff had yet to decide if he was going to be a safety or LB going forward and there was already enough depth ahead of him that he wasn't going to play this year.

Doug Roberts 5 years, 3 months ago

One thing is for certain: Bourbon was going to get hurt at least once in the season anyway. Dude's built, but he gets hurt. That's just what it is. Cox also has a tendency to get banged up, so Avery and especially Mann were going to get PT anyway. Call me crazy, but I think these two guys are going to do some good things this fall. The sky hasn't fallen yet.

Kevin Robert Fest 5 years, 3 months ago

Cross your fingers, cross your toes, cross your eyes, cross your heart. Cross anything you can think of and hope for the best.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 3 months ago

"The best" has happened for KU football once before...

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