- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Mississippi State will be without backup running back Nick Griffin when it takes on Northwestern in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
The sophomore was injured in practice on Saturday and tests later revealed that he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He'll miss the Bulldogs' bowl game, but the hope is that he'll be able to return by next fall and compete in the 2013 season.
Griffin was thought to be one of Mississippi State's top returning offensive athletes this fall. While he played behind starter LaDarius Perkins, he rushed for 223 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7 yards per carry.
Freshman running back Josh Robinson is expected to fill in for Perkins against the Wildcats. Robinson actually carried the ball more than Griffin this fall and finished the regular season with 244 yards and a touchdown. He has a low center of gravity and very strong legs, which make him tough to bring down at times.
This is the second time Griffin has suffered a major knee injury during his football career. He also tore the ACL in his right knee less than two years ago, causing him to miss the first five games of his freshman campaign.
You have to feel for a player with such potential and has been through something like this before. The timing of these kinds of injuries is never good, but to have it happen right before the bowl game must sting even more. Not only will he miss the postseason game that he and his teammates worked so hard to get to but this sort of injury usually takes close to a year to heal and any setbacks could eat into his 2013 season.
Chaney heads west
It didn't take former Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to land on his feet. On Wednesday, Arkansas announced that Chaney will be joining new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema as the Razorbacks' new offensive coordinator.
“Jim Chaney’s approach will blend well with my ideas as we work to put together a plan for the team we have and over time develop our specific philosophy,” Bielema said in a statement. “While he was at Purdue, several of the best coaches in the nation sought his advice on how to use the spread offense. Jim went on to spend a few years in the NFL and gained a new appreciation for a pro-style offense similar to the balanced attack we will look to incorporate at Arkansas. He has spent his career developing numerous players for the NFL including Drew Brees. He knows the SEC, having coached at Tennessee, and is familiar with what it takes to be successful in this conference. He is an upbeat and positive person who has proven at every stop he is an elite coach in our profession.”
The Hogs were lethal through the air when Bobby Petrino was in charge, and the hope is that Chaney's high-flying offense will help restore some of that high-octane feel that was lacking under John L. Smith's guidance in 2012.
Chaney spent the past four years as Tennessee's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but the Vols' offense really took off in 2012. Tennessee ranked second in the SEC in total offense, averaging 475.9 yards per game. The Vols were also one of the best passing teams in the conference, with quarterback Tyler Bray passing for 3,619 yards and 34 touchdowns. Bray's touchdown passes were the seventh-most in a season in SEC history, and his passing yards ranked 11th in conference history.
Bray also broke Tennessee's single-game record with 530 yards passing in the Vols' 55-48 win over Troy. It is the second-highest single-game total in SEC history.
With Bielema's hard-nosed rushing approach and Chaney's vaunted passing attack, the Razorbacks hope to be extremely balanced on offense in 2013.
2hJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy