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Taking stock of the injuries

UPDATED FRIDAY, 2:23 p.m. with Wolfgramm out

Since this is a game in which we all feel like we ought to at worst be competitive -- and at best have an outside shot at an upset (which I'm not sure I get, but whatever) -- I'm paying a little closer attention than usual to the injury situation heading into the weekend.

Here's the best list I could compile of the issues. Each player's "status" is my best guess based on published reports, as I have no special insight. They're arranged from most likely to start to least likely to play; players with long-term injuries (Kevin Kooyman, B.J. Guerra, Steven Ayers, etc.) not included:

SS Xavier Hicks

Injury: Stiff back

Status: Will start

What it means: Can't lose anyone else out of the secondary. Period. So he's gotta play and be effective.

OLB Andy Mattingly

Injury: Thigh bruise

Status: Will start

What it means: Mattingly suffered this injury some time ago, and probably has been more hampered by the injury than any of us realized. His playmaking has dropped off the last couple of games, but he says he's getting better. Let's hope so. This team needs a healthy Mattingly.

QB Jeff Tuel

Injury: Bruised hip/back

Status: Likely to start

What it means: The Sun Devils bring the No. 9 rushing defense into Martin Stadium. That means we're going to have to throw the ball to be successful. I don't have to tell you again how bad Marshall Lobbestael has been -- I already did that once. We need Tuel to play, and we need him to be effective. Because, as inconsistent as ASU's offense has been, you still have to score points to win, right?

RB Dwight Tardy

Injury: Sore shoulder

Status: Likely to start

What it means: With James Montgomery already out, do you really want the bulk of the rushing load dropping to Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston? I like them both, but the one thing that separates Tardy is that he's generally nails in pass protection (although he whiffed on one on Saturday). We need him, even if we're facing a practically impossible task in running the ball.

OG Brian Danaher

Injury: Concussion

Status: Likely to play

What it means: Paul Wulff has said that the starting offensive line would be the same regardless of Danaher's progress. Color me among those flummoxed as to why that would be the case. Expect to see lots of Danaher before it's all said and done, and that's a good thing -- Alex Reitnouer might yet be a good offensive lineman, but he needs another 30 pounds before he's really ready to tangle with ASU's 290+ pound defensive tackles.

WR Jared Karstetter

Injury: Hip pointer

Status: 50/50 to play

What it means: It's never a good thing to take a way a weapon from a struggling offense -- especially the one who brings a unique skill set. Karstetter is our biggest receiver, and I think you could make a good case that he's our best receiver.

DT Bernard Wolfgramm

Injury: Hip injury

Status: Might play, but probably limited if he does Not going to play

What it means: This is hugely bad. The defensive line actually has performed reasonably well this year, but with the loss of Josh Luapo, it already was thin. If there's one place we can't afford to lose guys, it's defensive tackle. If Wolfgramm can't go, We're left with Toby Turpin and redshirt freshman Anthony Laurenzi starting, Dan Spitz moving inside as the third tackle, and Jesse Feagin moving into the starting lineup at end. See why this is bad?

MLB Alex Hoffman-Ellis

Injury: Staph infection in his left arm

Status: Unlikely to play

What it means: This is probably the least bad of any of the injuries in the sense that there's an extremely competent backup ready to step in. In fact, extremely competent might be selling Louis Bland a bit short. Expect very little drop off.

OG Zack Williams

Injury: High ankle sprain

Status: Unlikely to play

What it means: This team needs Williams back to be able to run the ball. Fortunately, there probably was no chance we were going to be able to run the ball this weekend, whether Williams was in the lineup. Best to get him healthy for Cal after the bye.

QB Kevin Lopina

Injury: Calf strain

Status: Will not play

What it means: Nothing, really. He wasn't going to play unless both QBs in front of him go down, and if that happens ... well, just shoot us all.