In the wake of Chad Kelly’s season-ending injury, Ole Miss decided to burn Shea Patterson’s redshirt with just three games remaining in the regular season. The Rebels would ride the highly touted freshman to an upset of Texas A&M on the road in College Station and, in the process, kept their bowl hopes alive. Meanwhile, in Bloomington, Indiana, Penn State saw two more offensive linemen, Paris Palmer and Connor McGovern, leave their game against the Hoosiers early with injuries. Not coincidentally, the Nittany Lions’s Heisman hopeful running back had his worst outing of the season with just 58 yards on a career-high 33 carries, including numerous carries that resulted in negative yardage.
The common thought would be to simply cobble together a couple games of makeshift lines against the likes of a bottom-dwelling Rutgers and a disappointing Michigan State, hoping McGovern can make it back soon (he’s currently still listed as the starter on this week’s depth chart) and see if anyone else can get healthy for the bowl game.
Then, Iowa upset Michigan on Saturday and Penn State’s future took quite the turn. Should the Nittany Lions win out and the Wolverines lose again to either Indiana and/or Ohio State, Penn State will find themselves in Indianapolis with a Big Ten title and potential College Football Playoff berth on the line. Now, is it worth throwing either Will Fries or Michal Menet, both of whom the staff had been planning to redshirt, into the mix? I imagine the plan is to only to play them in the case of an emergency where more injuries further thin out the line, but if an opportunity at the Playoff and more is on the line, it may be worth it.
So, the question is: when do you reach the point where you actually burn a redshirt this late in the season?