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Garcia's dilemma
Richard Linde, 23 April 2008

Isaiah Stanback’s Lisfranc injury robbed Coach Willingham of a bowl in 2006 and body slammed him onto a hot seat. In the worst case for Willingham, losing center Juan Garcia likely will weaken the offensive line, viewed as the strength of this year’s team, this through the loss of leadership, tenacity and experience.  Over the last two seasons, Garcia has started 25-straight games at center for the Dawgs. Like Stanback’s injury, Garcia’s could negatively impact a bowl season for Willingham, and his future.

With Willingham, he can sooth his immediate concerns with the simplistic thought of "just winning," while Garcia must contemplate an uncertain future.

Juan can let the injury heal on its own which could hasten his return to the team, but, evidently, there’s a 60% chance it won’t heal. Delaying surgery could delay his return by whatever time he waits. Having immediate surgery could involve a rehab taking as long as 9 or 10 months if Stanback’s recovery is any indication.

Then there is the case of former DT Donny Mateaki, who successfully recovered from a Lizsranc injury, missing spring practice in 2005 for foot surgery to repair a ligament, only to play in the fall.

Garcia told reporters yesterday that "he is holding out hope that he may be able to return at midseason, or later in the year, even if just for a token appearance." [Seattle Times]

The specifics of Garcia's contemplated surgery are not known.

Although a different type of injury, former TE Joe Toledo’s recurring groin injuries were always slow to heal. Gilby said that was par for the course with a big man. As I remember, Toledo did a lot of bicycling for the Dawgs over his career. I’m just speculating and thinking of Garica having to put all that weight on his left foot again, and having to slowly rehab it back into playing condition with the stress it eventually must take implicit in all the twisting and turning of playing center on the team. 

I know it’s easy to look to the past and question one’s decisions. Garcia is faced with that daunting challenge over the next few weeks, wondering if he shouldn’t have opted for this year’s NFL draft instead of petitioning for a sixth year with the Dawgs – wondering what could have been? In addition, he must wrestle with a decision as whether to have surgery on his foot.

With positive people, dwelling on the past is usually a fruitless and short-lived experience; the need for ensuring a better future becomes a rightful companion, as trite as it is to say.

Go, Juan. 

 

Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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