Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Injury update; the loss of a legend

Starting left offensive tackle Wes Gavin was on a crutches with his injured left ankle in a walking boot while holder Jake Semones had his arm in a sling at this morning's practice. Obviously, neither of them took part in practice although according to Yale coach Tom Williams there is a chance both could play Saturday at Lafayette.

"Gavin's got an ankle, we don't know how severe it is but we have it is the walking boot just to make sure," Williams said. "We are going to keep him out today and will reevaluate him this afternoon to see how he feels. The MRI came back negative so there is no ligament damage or anything like that so it is just an ankle sprain. Semones shoulder contusion so I think today he is going to be in the sling, tomorrow he is going to get out of the sling and Thursday he'll be ready to practice.

"Wes' (injury) on tape looked like it could have been a lot worse. He was able to pull his foot out at the last minute but it looked like it could have been bad. With Jake's, he just have to fall better. He just didn't know how to take that shot and got hit right on the point of the shoulder."

If there are any questions about Gavin's injured ankle, Yale is likely to err on the side of caution to make sure he is good to go for the remainder of the Ivy League schedule. If Gavin can't go, freshman Ben Carbery would likely get the start at left tackle.

Carbery got the call after Gavin went down with 3:15 left in the third quarter. Although he was whistled for a holding penalty (which was declined) on his first play, Carbery drew raves from his coaches for his performance.

"He came in and played very well when Wes went down," Williams said. "We have been trying to get him into the game the last couple of weeks. He has played some spot duty but he is ready and we are ready to give him an opportunity. If he is pressed into action, I have no doubt that he will be ready to go."

The kicking game is always a popular topic when I receive e-mails from readers. With Philippe Panico's extra point being blocked after the Bulldogs' second touchdown, this week is no different. After watching the tape, Williams said the block was a result of a protection breakdown and not because Panico's kick was too low.

:That was a missed protection, a protection issue," Williams said. "It was the first time we had a protection issue. It was my own fault. Nick Schneider had gotten hit and we weren't sure what his status was but he ran out there and just kind of blanked out. That's (on) me, we should have made sure he was on the sidelines By the time we looked out there, he was already lined up in the huddle. We wanted to see if he could do it and he couldn't. (Matt) Battaglia is his backup and he came in and did a nice job the rest of the game.

Just moments before Saturday's game against Dartmouth, Williams was stunned to hear of the death of NFL icon Al Davis.

Although Williams served two years on the staff of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, his dealings with Davis actually dated back to his days at Stanford when Davis would occasionally stop by to meet up with good friend Bill Walsh.

After Tuesday's practice, I asked Williams to reflect on the legacy of Davis, who died on Saturday at the age of 82.

"I got to know him through Bill Walsh, those guys were really good friends," Williams said. "He would come by the Stanford facility every now and then to say hi to Coach Walsh so that was how I was introduced to him. He was very nice, a very genuine guy, a real football guy. You tell that, his passion for the game and obviously he has been an innovator for a long time in the NFL. He will be sorely missed, he is kind of the last of the old guard."

Like so many others, Williams admits it wouldn't take long for him to mention Davis' name when rattling off the most influential figures in NFL history.

"I think he is going to be up there, certainly in terms of hiring" Williams said. "(He) hired one of the first black coaches in the NFL, a woman administrator, first lLatino coach in Tom Flores so as far as I am concerned, he ranks pretty high in terms of being an innovator. I know Coach Walsh spoke very highly of him as somebody who was very instrumental in the development of the league. I would say he is going to be in the top five of all of those guys in terms of his effect on the game.

While he did not know Davis as well as he did Walsh, who was one of Williams' mentors, Williams admitted he flashed back to his emotions after Walsh's death in 2007 when he heard the news of Davis' passing.
"Right after the national anthem I put my head set on. Coach (Kefense)  Hynson was up in the press box and he said that Al Davis had died so right before kickoff. I thought of Coach Walsh actually because I remember my first year in Jacksonville, we were on the practice field and I had found out that he had passed away. That was obviously a crushing blow for me. I thought of some of the old guard, some of the guys who have been leading the league for a long time are starting to die. It is sad, obviously. Those guys have made their impact and hopefully the younger generation can keep it going."

Williams believed it was fitting that the Raiders honored Davis the best way they knew how, with a 25-20 win over Houston.

"(Raiders head coach) Hue Jackson is a friend of mine and I saw the emotion he let go after the game," Williams said. "I know he and Al were very close. I know that Al loves his players. If you play for the Raiders and you are part of that organization, he takes care of his people. I know those guys wanted him to go out with a victory. I think that is going to propel them on for the rest of the season, I really do."

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