When Union College senior safety Sam Goldman turned to cover a receiver in Tuesday morning’s practice, his body went one way, and his knee didn’t come along for the ride.
The result was one of those unexpected injuries that coaches at any level dread.
Goldman, a co-captain and defensive leader, limped around on crutches during the annual Dutchmen football media day in the
afternoon at Frank Bailey Field. He won’t know until he has an MRI today whether he’ll be able to play this season, and if so, how much.
It’s one of many questions for this year’s Union football team.
“When I tried to turn on the coverage, my cleat got stuck in the turf and my knee didn’t turn with the rest of my body,” Goldman said. “We think it might be an ACL
[anterior cruciate ligament] injury. I had an X-ray today, and it didn’t show anything, but we’ll have the MRI to see how severe it is.
“If the MRI is positive, I’ll try to get back here on the field as quickly as possible. Maybe I can brace it up and still play. I’m hoping for the best.”
Goldman is one of seven returning starters on defense for the Dutchmen, who were 5-1 in the Liberty League and 6-4 overall a year ago. He appeared in eight games, and made 14 tackles.
“We have a large contingent of good, solid players across the board on defense coming back,” Goldman said. “Our guys up front are a little young, but everyone else, including the outside linebackers and the defensive backs, have plenty of experience behind them.
“We know that it might take the offense a little while to get going this year, so we are ready to set the pace on defense.
“I definitely consider myself to be a leader on this team. For the most part, I like to lead by example. I’m a big believer in getting out on the field and showing my teammates how it is done. Players
respect somebody when they have the ability, and when they work hard on the field. If I have to say something to somebody, I can do that, but I’d rather show them how than tell them how.”
Audino is hopeful that one of his best defensive players won’t be out of action.
“He’s one of the best players we have, both on defense and on special teams,” said Audino, who enters his 21st year at Union with a 141-60 record. “He was always around the ball on defense last year. If it turns out to be a MCL [medial collateral ligament] injury, he’ll be out for only a little while, but if it’s the ACL, he’s out for the season. We are hoping for the best.
“We would love to have [Goldman] back on the field as soon as possible. It was a freak injury on the turf, but those things happen in football. He’s a phenomenal kid, and a great leader. We just have to wait and see.”
Another major question mark for the Dutchmen is on offense, where they will try to replace one of the greatest quarterbacks in program history. Four-year starter Drew Connolly, who owns many of the team’s career passing records, completed 162 of 288 passes for 2,605 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Right now, the QB battle is among three different players.
“We’re rotating three different guys at this point, with Nick Becker, Connor Eck and Ryan Dougherty each working with the first team and getting the same amount of snaps. They will all play in our scrimmage against Castleton this week,” said Audino.
“Obviously, the quarterback position is the most prominent on the team. They all have good arms, and they are each very mobile. Becker and Eck are especially very good athletes”
No matter who wins the quarterback job, the main focus of the Union offense this season — at least in the early going — will be on the ground, where T.J. Franzese (586 yards rushing), Darnel Thomas (324 yards) and Tim Hersey (265 yards) all return.
“Our running attack will help keep the pressure off our young quarterbacks,” said Audino. “We also feel that our offensive line and our tight ends are a strength.”
Union must also find a replacement for its top two receivers, Justin Gallo and Connor Gallo, who combined for 89 catches and 19 touchdowns.
Albany Academy graduate Jimmer Bennett is back after pulling in 17 catches for an average of 17.2 yards per catch.
“I’m sure the coaching staff expects me to step up, and I expect to step up myself. I’m one of the few veteran receivers on this team, and whoever the quarterback is, I’m going to help him out,” said Bennett.”
The Dutchmen also need to replace their graduated kicker and punter. Tosin Kazeem and David Pope are competing for the kicking duties.
1 — SALVE REGINA, 1; 8 — UTICA, 7; 15 — at Ithaca; 22 — at St. Lawrence, 1; 29 — SPRINGFIELD, 6.
6 — at WPI, 1; 20 — ROCHESTER, 1:30; 27 — at Hobart, 1.
3 — U.S. MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY, 12; 10 — at RPI, 1.
Home games in CAPS.