FLORENCE, AL - Less than 45 minutes into its first drill of the Fall in full pads, the University of North Alabama football team suffered three key injuries on the offensive line, with two players lost for the season.
Junior Florida State University transfer Brandon Davis suffered a broken leg and will miss the remainder of the season. Linemen Will Furlong and Kyle Futch, a pair of transfers from Florida State who started for the Lions throughout the 2009 season, were also injured. Furlong's injury will force him to miss the 2010 season as well, while Futch will miss a week to ten days of practice.
"It was a tough morning," said UNA Head Football Coach Terry Bowden. "When you lose two guys for the season within 30 minutes of each other, and they are solid people that were rock-solid starters, you have to fight to maintain a good attitude. As a coach, you have to get the kids focus back on point and working toward what you are trying to accomplish."
Even with the losses, Bowden said UNA's offensive line still has a chance to be a strength for the team. "The thing about football is you are going to have injuries at some point, and when they come it gives someone else a chance to step-up ," said Bowden. "We felt we had a lot of experience and depth on the offensive line so we are going from 10 veterans to seven or eight, but we still have a lot of talent and players capable of helping us."
One bright spot on the first day in pads was the performance of the UNA defensive line. Bowden praised the play of Dominique Duster, Antron Dillon and Courtney Harris. "Our defensive front is playing well. We have depth there and I like what I'm seeing," said Bowden.
After their first day with two practices, the Lions will fall back to one practice session on Thursday. One area of focus will be the kicking game.
"We have to put a lot of time in on the kicking game," said Bowden. "It makes me really appreciate how good we had it last year when we had a veteran kicker and punter returning. The guys this year are rookies and they haven't had enough reps that you feel confident in what they are going to do." Bowden said freshman Kolby Taylor is the front-runner as both place kicker and punter.
The Lions will hold their first scrimmage on Saturday.