October 23, 2008

Smith ready to get back on the field

David Smith had never missed a football game in his life. So when the senior defensive tackle was forced to sit out of the Oct. 11 match up against USC due to stingers, he felt helpless.

"I wanted to be out there so bad," Smith said. "It was hard watching my teammates knowing that I'm supposed to be out there with them. And it was especially hard because it was against USC and it's my last year and I've never beaten them.

"But I've thought it over and there was no way I could have played. My arm was pretty much paralyzed; I could move it but it was worthless. It was probably smart that I didn't play."

Smith said he has suffered four stingers this season.

The first came against Georgia on Sept. 20 and it was relatively mild.

The next three all came against Cal on Oct. 4. The first two against the Golden Bears were mild too, but the third stinger Smith suffered in that game was more severe.

"With that third one I pretty much lost all strength in my right arm," Smith said. "I have a little bit of nerve damage. So my right arm was pretty useless for a little bit."

Smith said it initially felt like a "knife was stuck in my shoulder" and that he was in constant pain.

That pain was so unbearable it even kept him from sleeping at first.

When he tilted his head back to look straight up, the pain would shoot down his entire right arm and he would get a tingling sensation in his fingers.

"That was the worst pain I've ever felt," he said.

Smith sat out of practice the week leading up to the USC game and did not participate in any contact drills the following week to get the strength back in his neck and shoulder, and even that was difficult for him.

"I don't even think I've missed practice before because of injury," Smith said, "so when I was out here for those two weeks I wasn't sure exactly what to do."

But Smith is recovering well and is cleared to play Saturday against Oregon. He is not 100-percent yet, however.

His right arm is not back at full strength. He said he feels it the most when he drops into a three-point stance before the snap.

But as the game goes on, Smith said, he is positive that he will forget about the pain and won't even notice it.

"I can't wait to get out there [Saturday]," Smith said. "It feels like I haven't played a game in forever so it'll be nice to get back out there."

The time off has afforded Smith the opportunity to get some fresh legs and he has practiced very well this week.

"I've conditioned a lot and my legs feel good," he said. "I'm hoping to have a big game against Oregon."

Rudy watch

On Wednesday, quarterback Rudy Carpenter had his best practice since he injured his ankle against Cal.

"He was better today," Coach Dennis Erickson said. "It was the first time I've seen him get some steam on the ball like he had before he was hurt. That will even continue to get better tomorrow."

With Carpenter back, and wide receiver Chris McGaha feeling as good as he has all season, the offense has practiced very well this week.

"It's a pride thing," Erickson said. "Offensively we know what we need to do. We need to step it up."

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