As far as injury woes go, no one at Texas or Wisconsin is going to do too much complaining in the light of the injury plague affecting already-shorthanded USC.
But there's probably going to be at least a little griping after potential all-conference performers at both schools had surgery this past week to repair a broken foot, sidelining them for the duration of spring practice.
At Texas, the player in question is outside linebacker Jordan Hicks, who Longhorn officials confirmed via Twitter has broken his right foot. A consensus five-star megarecruit and prep All-American in the class of 2010, Hicks got his feet wet with 21 tackles as a true freshman and is expected to become a major contributor to the Longhorn linebacking corps this fall under aggressive new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. But those expectations may have to be dialed back with Hicks forced to miss the rest of spring, and no doubt falling behind his teammates in adjusting to Diaz's schemes.
At Wisconsin, wide receiver Nick Toon -- son of New York Jets great Al Toon, though you probably knew that already -- is taking on a very different role this spring after breaking a bone in his left foot:
The Badgers football team started spring practices on Tuesday, with Toon on crutches and his left foot in a boot after surgery last week to repair a fracture to the fifth metatarsal.
So instead of running routes and working on his timing with new quarterback Jon Budmayr , Toon is relegated to helping the team's young receivers grow up as fast as possible.
"I'll be out here coaching up these young guys," Toon said after practice, which was closed to the media. "It's a great opportunity for me to spread my knowledge among the young cats around here, get those guys on track so they can help me out in the fall."
Unlike Hicks, the senior Toon has enough experience that the missed practice won't hurt him too badly. But who it might hurt is Budmayr, who could certainly benefit from working on his timing with his future No. 1 receiver and gaining the confidence that comes with throwing to a steady, veteran hand like Toon.
The good news for both Texas and Wisconsin -- other than that neither is USC -- is that both Hicks and Toon should be 100 percent by the time fall camp rolls around. But for one team looking to atone for a 5-7 disaster and one trying to preserve their precarious perch atop the Big Ten, even relatively minor setbacks like these can prove crucial come the crucible of the season.