Not a whole lot of news came from the Butch Jones' Tuesday media conference, but a few small tidbits did stand out.
--- Probably the biggest bit of news was the RB Darrin Williams is likely done for the season. There originally was a hope that he would return for the West Virginia game, but what was thought to be a high ankle sprain turned out to be a little more serious. Williams had a screw put into his ankle and is working his way back from that.
"Initiallly we were counting on him for WVU -- that hasn't materialized," Jones said. "We're anticipating he'll be out the rest of the season."
--- Injuries took on a common theme as Jones made his way through the 20-minute session. He, of course, touched on the status of Zach Collaros and reiterated the encouraging signs that he will play on Saturday, but sounded a little less definitive than on his conference call.
He said they would put Collaros through full game-like conditions on Tuesday and have a better idea then.
There is an expectation that won't be a problem, but we will find out more on Wednesday.
--- Ever since Vidal Hazelton went down in Fresno, for me, it's been the saddest story of Bearcats season. All Hazelton wanted to do was have an opportunity he waited two years for. Then one half and six catches into his first game he was out for the year. (Well, maybe, if you follow his Twitter account Hazelton is making bold predictions for the UConn game)
Jones compared the loss of Hazelton to what it would have been like had Mardy Gilyard gone down last year. It'd be hard to argue with him there. Those were the expectations and Hazelton came with as much physical skill and hype as Gilyard -- if not more.
His loss not only affected the offense, but a kick return game still searching for somebody who can provide a spark. UC is one of 15 FBS schools without a kickoff return of longer than 30 yards this year.
Last year they averaged 28.5 yards a return -- good for second in the country.
Hazelton was supposed to be that guy. And the incredible progress he's made in his return shows how much he cares about playing the game.
Jones said he had a conversation last week with Hazelton and the senior said, "Why did this have to happen to me? Why?"
Your heart just goes out to a guy like that.
--- Most importantly, Jones pointed out the injury problems haven't been as much about one player as an accumulation.
When you consider Isaiah Pead missed time ("He really hasn't been healthy all year," Jones said. "You look at the Miami game, the Oklahoma game when he was extremely healthy, it's been a learning process for him.) Hazelton, Collaros, Dominique Battle, the ineligibility of Kenbrell Thompkins and Dyjuan Lewis, Maalik Bomar missing practice weeks and the suspension of Travis Kelce.
"The injuries this year have been very, very challengeing. It's the injureis at key postitions that has really hampered us a little bit. More than I have ever been a part of. When you are putting pieces in on a week to week basis, I think that adds up. When your key components are out for the season, yeah, that adds up.
"We're not the only team that's going through it, most teams are going through what we're going through."
--- Also, the game will air locally on CW at noon on Saturday.
--- This is a homecoming of sorts for Butch Jones who was a wide recievers coach under RichRod from 2005-06. Five member of his staff either played or coached there.
Jones said his wife's phone has been ringing off the hook with friends who know they are coming to town. But this won't all be about nostalgia and hugs, there will be some advantage for the Bearcats, even though Jones is four years removed from his time there.
"It was just a few years ago," Jones said. "A lot of the players on that team I either recruited or had a hand on recruiting. The process is a conglomeration on the entire staff working together. Jock (Sanders), J.T. Thomas, a number of individuals, Chris Neild, remembering him coming in as a true freshman, Scooter Berry, Will Johnson from Ohio, all those different things. I understand the attitude, mentality and toughness it's going to take going in there."