Asked about his biggest frustration over two decades as coach of the Bruins, Terry Donahue didn’t hesitate.
“Injuries,” he said. “You never look as good as you do on Picture Day. The players are quick, fresh, healthy. You never look that good again.”
Donahue’s point was illustrated only 72 hours after this year’s picture day when tailback Skip Hicks suffered torn cartilage in his left knee. Hicks underwent arthroscopic surgery Wednesday and isn’t expected back until after the team’s Oct. 7 bye. That would leave him only six games.
What especially frustrated Donahue was that Hicks was hurt before the team even put on pads. Wearing shorts and a T-shirt, Hicks had caught a pass and was starting to turn upfield, when he was hit on the shoulder. His left foot was still planted, ripping the cartilage in his knee.
The hit upset offensive coordinator Bob Toledo. “We want our players to be aggressive, but that’s not being smart,” he said.
Although Karim Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Sharmon Shah) had already won the starting job, the Bruins were depending on Hicks to provide backup strength and the breakaway threat Abdul-Jabbar has yet to show consistently. Hicks and Abdul-Jabbar would have both been in the backfield on pass plays.
The backup tailback will now be converted fullback James Milliner, a senior who has rushed for 584 yards over the three previous seasons.
Tim Waddleton, a senior outside linebacker who transferred from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College, was cut for academic reasons. . . . Starting quarterback Ryan Fien sat out Wednesday’s practice, the first day in pads, because of a pulled thigh muscle, but hopes to be back on the field today.