Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
Every year there are a few teams in the non-BCS possible that are labeled as teams to watch as the season unfolds. This year, teams such as BYU, Fresno State, BYU, East Carolina, TCU and Tulsa ascended that list either for past performances or future potential.
But East Carolina took a major hit to those chances when starting running back Dominique Lindsay suffered a knee injury during practice Tuesday evening and had surgery Thursday to repair it. Early estimations have Lindsay out for at least six-to-eight weeks, but that's the optimistic prognosis.
This is a huge blow to the Pirates, who graduated last season's leading rusher, Chris Johnson. Johnson was the school's all-time leader in all-purpose yardage and No. 3 in rushing. Lindsay was the next best rusher who had played significant snaps.
"I'm absolutely sick for a guy like Dominique who is a senior and has really busted his tail," East Carolina coach Skip Holtz said. "He put his heart, soul and energy into the winter workouts, the spring and the summer. I know that he's really devastated... We're just going to have to wait and see where this thing goes after the surgery."
The injury bug has hit few non-BCS offenses as badly as East Carolina. Six offensive players missed practice Wednesday because of injury, and three of those were running backs. ECU hasn't played with its full complement of offensive players since the first day of camp.
Already, ECU has to be worried about playing its loaded nonconference schedule of Virginia Tech, West Virginia, NC State and Virginia with its running back situation in flux. If the Pirates could have gone 3-1 through its nonconference season and made a nice showing in their loss, they might have had a case for a BCS bowl.
But now, that thought appears more like a dream, unless East Carolina finds a diamond in the rough during the rest of fall camp.
If Lindsay is lost for the season, East Carolina's hope of crashing the BCS party might be lost, too.