Lions Lose A Lot

By Adam Caparell - April 14, 2008


The news that Sean Lee will be lost for the season after he tore his right ACL late last week in practice is pretty bad for Penn State.

In Lee, the Nittany Lions had one of the best linebackers in not only the Big Ten, but the country, and now he's gone for the 2008 season.

Responsible for 138 tackles last season, all Lee did was quietly stake his claim as a future star in the making all the while being overshadowed by the latest great Penn State linebacker, Dan Connor.

Lee was the real deal and was well on his way to becoming the next great Penn State linebacker. Instincts and intelligence are the two characteristics that are most readily used to describe Lee, but he could play and make a big impact - he had double-figure tackles in 10 of the final 11 games last season.

And as of right now, Penn State has no one who can readily step in the fill his role on defense. But the responsibility is going to fall onto Josh Hull, who has experience playing at Lee's spot, along with Bani Gbadyu and Tyrell Sales most likely. But to put things into their proper perspective, the three of them combined for half the tackles Lee had last season.

Many would tell you that Lee is a better linebacker than Connor, the latest All-American Penn State linebacker who's getting ready for the NFL Draft right now. Some would even say Lee's better than Penn State great Paul Posluszny who anchored the Nittany Lions defense during their run to the Orange Bowl three years back.

But by planting his leg the wrong way, that argument has become a moot point for now.

As for where the injury leaves Lee, fortunately he still has a red-shirt season because he was more than good enough to play right away as a freshman. And with rehab slated to take nine months, it's expected that he'll be back playing for the Nittany Lions in 2009. But his absence will be felt for sure.

Spring Game Roundup: A number of teams had their spring games over the weekend, among the more notable ones where Florida, Oklahoma and Alabama.

At Florida's spring game, Emmanuel Moody looked impressive carrying the football, albeit against the second team defense, but showed great flashes by ripping off several impressive runs in the game's third quarter. The only problem was Moody fumbled the ball into the end zone on a long run that looked to be a sure touchdown. As he neared the goal line, the ball was knocked loose as Moody stretched his arms toward the end zone in a mid-air dive. He left the ball unprotected and he cost himself a few points with the coaching staff as he battles for the starting tailback job.

"I thought that run before he got hit going into the end zone was an excellent run. He's got talent," Florida coach Urban Meyer said after the game. "But there's no chance you'll see him play regardless of what dot.com says and all the e-mail I'll get and everything else. He will not play football if there's a chance it's falling on the ground."

Moody, the sophomore USC transfer who is expected to be one of the Gators featured backs this fall, finished the game with 111 yards on 14 carries. It was a pretty good debut in front of the Florida faithful, but one that many will remember for the wrong reason.

Personally, I think a little too much is being made of the play. Of course, Moody has to protect the ball, especially when you get down near the goal line, but if he scores that touchdown he's Florida's new offensive savior who everybody is talking about. And give the guy a little credit for giving that extra effort. Smartest play in the world? Absolutely not. But let's not lose sight of the fact that this is spring football and he was playing in front of the Florida fans for the first time, and obviously wanted to impress.

The big fuss surrounding Oklahoma's spring game had to do with Sam Bradford. He and his three interceptions have some Sooners fans a little concerned, which is nothing short of ridiculous.

As a freshman, Bradford led the nation in passing efficiency and threw just eight interceptions. I wouldn't worry too much about three spring interceptions.

And in Alabama, only 78,000-plus showed up for Nick Saban - the Shy Guy - and his second spring game as Crimson Tide coach. Clearly Saban has lost something off of his fastball. Alabama saw a 13 percent decrease in attendance after last year's 92,000-plus A-Day showing.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 10:01 AM on April 14, 2008
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