When Klint Kubiak took off his pads on Oct. 10, he had a feeling it could be the last time he would do so in a CSU Rams uniform.
After a strong start to the 2009 season, Kubiak, a strong safety for the Rams, is out for the rest of the year with a torn pectoral muscle. The senior defensive team captain tore the muscle late in a game against the Utah Utes earlier this month, had surgery for the injury the following Wednesday and was pronounced out for the season by CSU head coach Steve Fairchild Monday.
Kubiak, who has been sidelined by injury on three separate occasions in the past three seasons, said that this time was particularly tough.
“I’m really disappointed,” he said after standing on the sidelines of Tuesday’s practice. “There isn’t a lot to say about it. It’s just the way it goes sometimes. I wish it could have ended differently, but I’ve had a good career here and I’m really happy I got to play here.”
Kubiak knew when the injury occurred that he had hurt himself, but didn’t know just how bad until he came off the field.
“I knew something wasn’t right, but it was really cold, so everything was more numb,” he said. “I kept playing with it then, after the game, went and saw doctors and knew something was wrong.”
Kubiak currently ranks second on the Rams in tackles with 48, only four behind leader Mychal Sisson.
CSU defensive coordinator Larry Kerr said that losing Kubiak hurts the Rams, but added that the team has to find a way to continue on.
“It’s obviously a setback. It’s a set back for Klint (Kubiak), he’s such a key player and a good person that, man, you hate to see that happen,” Kerr said. “But with that being said, we have to move on. Klint was a team captain and a leader, so it hurts us.”
Ivory Herd will be taking over Kubiak’s starting strong safety spot. The sophomore filled in for Kubiak during the Rams’ loss to Texas Christian University last Saturday, recording six tackles and a pass break up.
Herd played mostly on special teams for the Rams last season, recording a team leading nine tackles.
He said Kubiak’s injury is “unfortunate,” but is confident he can fill in nicely.
“I’m a sophomore, but when my number is called, I have to step up,” the 5-foot-11-inch, 190 pound Herd said. “My coach obviously feels I’m ready, and I feel ready. I’ve been practicing hard all summer and off season. Now is my time.”
The Rams have had good luck replacing injured safeties in the past. Last year, Kubiak went down with a knee injury late in the season only to be replaced by Elijah-Blu Smith. Smith played well in Kubiak’s absence, helped lead the Rams to a New Mexico Bowl victory and earned a starting spot on this year’s team in the process.
Smith said he was going to miss Kubiak but thought Herd could enjoy similar success.
“It’s detrimental. Just the leadership he had and his energy was great,” Smith, a sophomore, said of Kubiak. “Most teams you have to deal with adversity. Ivory (Herd) is definitely a great safety, so just having him there is helping us out. He’s a fast guy, and he likes to hit people. You can’t get better than that.”
Although he is done for the rest of the regular season, Kubiak said he might have a possibility of returning to the Rams stating line up if CSU can make a bowl game.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.