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PAC-12 NOTEBOOK

Arizona and Arizona State deal with rash of odd injuries

Arizona State will be without cornerback Omar Bolden and receiver T.J. Simpson, who both have ACL tears but not by contact. Arizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight has same injury.

August 30, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden suffered a torn ACL during spring practice. His absence will be a blow to the Sun Devils' defense this season.
Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden suffered a torn ACL during spring… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Arizona's football teams have been swarmed by football injuries. Strange ones.

The plague descended in the spring and has festered through fall camps, and both Arizona and Arizona State head into the regular season without key players.

But just how some of them happened is rather bizarre. As in, the players weren't touched.

"The injuries that we've had that were season-ending, they had nothing to do with hitting," Arizona State Coach Dennis Erickson said Tuesday during the weekly Pacific 12 football coaches' conference call.

Erickson was referring to knee ligament injuries suffered this spring by cornerback Omar Bolden, an All-Pac-10 selection last season, and receiver T.J. Simpson, who had 481 yards receiving.

"Nobody touched anybody and their ACLs went out," said Erickson, adding that reserve cornerback Devan Spann will probably sit out the season because of a lingering shoulder injury.

Arizona Coach Mike Stoops has lost players too, with starting cornerback Jonathan McKnight (ACL, last week) the latest.

The statewide epidemic has infected the NFL too.

Stoops attended the recent NFL exhibition game between Arizona and San Diego in which Greg Toler, a starting cornerback for the Cardinals, suffered a season-ending ACL tear on a play on which he wasn't touched.

"It's just weird," said Stoops, who saw starting safety Adam Hall and starting linebacker Jake Fisher suffer ACL tears in the spring. "I don't quite understand it."

Road kill

The last time Colorado won a football game outside its state, the U.S. economy was in decent shape. It happened in October 2007, at Texas Tech.

It's been all downhill since, for both the economy and Ralphie the Buffalo. Colorado has been road kill in 18 consecutive games.

Colorado opens its season Saturday at Hawaii, but first-year Coach Jon Embree considers it an all-business trip.

He was asked whether that might be difficult in paradise, where people go to vacation.

"To me, it don't matter if we're playing on the moon," Embree said. "We have to learn how to play when we're not at Folsom Field."

Quick hits

Coach Mike Riley said Oregon State will have a freshman starting in the backfield: 5-foot-8 running back Malcolm Agnew will debut Saturday against Sacramento State. The Beavers are 27 1/2 -point favorites.... Oregon Coach Chip Kelly said he doesn't expect Louisiana State to drastically change its game plan without starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was recently suspended for his alleged involvement in a bar brawl. LSU's starter is expected to be Jarrett Lee, who is hardly a newcomer. He has appeared in 30 games and started nine.... Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian said his starting quarterback, sophomore Keith Price, reminds him of former Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1993 and also played in the NBA.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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