Tomorrow we'll start previewing South Carolina. Today we're going to talk about injuries, which I hesitate to do because I'm not sure I can say anything about them that hasn't been said ad nauseum already.
Early Doucet (pictured) and Matt Flynn are acknowledged by the coaching staff to be injured. Who knows who else isn't acknowledged to be injured? Doucet's injury is some kind of groin/abdominal injury. There is MUCH discussion of it on the message boards. If you go to TigerDroppings, you'll probably see half a dozen threads on the first page with titles like, "Does anyone know about Doucet's injury?"
Lots of people claim to know a lot about Early's injury, all claiming inside knowledge. They don't seem to agree with one another about his prognosis, however, so we don't know who has reliable information.
Opinions vary from "He'll be back for the Florida game" to "He's out for most of the year." However much he is out, it is a serious blow to this team and to this young man.
First, the team. Obviously, Early Doucet is our most experienced receiver. He started the season with about 10x more career receptions than the rest of our receiver corps combined. He's a veteran of some of the great SEC battles of the last few years. He's caught last-minute touchdown passes to win games against Arizona State and Tennessee. He's the best red zone receiver in recent memory at LSU. He's a guy we could count on in the clutch to make the big catch. We have a lot of other receivers with ability, but none with the proven record of performance. He's also a team leader.
Second, the man. This is Early's senior year. He's been here four years now, and it's finally his team. It's a few other people's team, but it's his team as well. In the past, he's shared the spotlight with Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, and before that it was Joseph Addai's and Andrew Whitworth's team, among others. It's hard to explain the mentality of an athlete in his senior year, particularly one like Early who has relished the leadership role and thrived in it. The seniors are the ones everyone looks to, and they're the ones who "own" the team, so to speak. If he didn't relish the leadership role, he could have gone to the NFL last year and probably been picked around the 2nd round. Instead he came back. I hope this injury doesn't cost him his senior year.
Matt Flynn's injury is a high ankle sprain, a term I don't think I had ever heard ten years ago. Now, I seem to hear it all the time. Flynn (pictured) could have played against MTSU but was held out for precautionary reasons. One thing they all say about high ankle sprains is that they just seem to linger and linger and linger without ever getting better. I hope that's not the case with Flynn.
At least, in Flynn's case, he's healthy enough to play right now. If it doesn't get better, he can still go as long as it doesn't get worse. Of course, an injury that limits Matt Flynn as a runner limits one of the strengths of his game. If Matt Flynn can't run, he's probably not as good of a QB right now as is Ryan Perrilloux.
Like with Doucet, Matt Flynn is in his senior year. Unlike Doucet, who previously shared the spotlight, Flynn has yielded it. This season is even more important then for Matt Flynn, who doesn't have as much past glory as Early Doucet has.
I would sure like to get Flynn back for the Tulane game to warm up for the Florida game, which now looks like the toughest game on our schedule. Perrilloux has filled in admirably, but I'd rather have a veteran like Flynn for that tough game.
OK, that's actually a picture of Matt Damon, but darnit the resemblance is uncanny and I couldn't find a head shot of Matt Flynn.
Switching gears, there's been a lot of talk about Les Miles not discussing injuries with the media. I am an attorney, but I am not a health care attorney so take this information for what it's worth. It is my opinion that it is illegal for football coaches to discuss players' injuries with the public without the express consent of the player. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (which makes health insurance neither portable nor accountable, but that's a discussion for a different blog) generally forbids health care provider from giving out your health care information without consent. It is my conclusion that the athletic trainers on the team and the team doctors are health care providers within the purview of the statute. The head coach, then, is a co-worker with the players' health care providers, and therefore are just are subject to its laws. The head coach would be treated just like the secretary at the doctors' office in that model.
Violation of HIPAA's privacy provisions can subject a person to civil liability. It wouldn't be a big deal, and I think it's very unlikely that Early Doucet and/or Matt Flynn would ever actually sue the university for discussing their injuries, but it is generally a good idea to obey federal laws whenever possible. Smart coaches who understand the privacy laws are starting to be more closed-mouthed about injuries, Les Miles among them.
Plus, I'm pretty sure Miles would rather keep that information out of the hands of his opponents anyway.