Ankle injuries sideline RBs Mark, Coleman


When a running back puts the moves on a defender, we like to joke that he's breaking ankles. But all that cutting and moving can be dangerous to a ball carrier's own precious feet.

We are reminded of that again on Monday in light of some sobering injury news involving two of the Big Ten's premier tailbacks.

At Northwestern, coach Pat Fitzgerald announced that senior Venric Mark is officially done for the season because of the fractured ankle he suffered at Wisconsin last month. It wasn't particularly surprising news, given all the injury problems Mark has had this year and the serious nature of his latest setback. But it's still a shame that we never really got to see Mark -- who ran for more than 1,000 yards and was an All-America punt returner in 2012 -- do his thing in 2013. He finishes the year with just 97 rushing yards and only one full game -- against Ohio State.

But Fitzgerald said Mark would apply for a medical redshirt. We hope to see him on the field next season, and if so, that would be a big boost for a Wildcats team that will be seeking a rebound year.

Indiana will almost certainly be without its leading rusher for this week's game at Wisconsin. Coach Kevin Wilson said Tevin Coleman is unlikely to play because of a sprained ankle he suffered last week against Illinois. Before the injury, Coleman ran for 215 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 attempts, earning Big Ten offensive player of the week honors. Coleman has been a breakout star this year, and his 958 yards are the most by a Hoosiers back since Levron Williams had 1,401 in 2001.

Coleman was on crutches after the game Saturday, and we hope to see him back before the season is over so he can make a run at 1,000 yards. Indiana is still in pretty good shape with Stephen Houston, a senior who was the team's top back the previous two seasons. Houston has run for more than 100 yards each of the past two weeks, including 150 versus Illinois. He's averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

But the Hoosiers will likely need all hands on deck to handle Wisconsin, which has clobbered them by a combined score of 204-41 the past three years.