College football’s early-season injury bug is wreaking havoc with quarterbacks.
Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire fractured his right ankle and South Carolina’s Connor Mitch separated his right shoulder Saturday, joining a growing fraternity of quarterbacks with significant injuries. Zaire will sit out the rest of the season. Mitch, who also has a bruised hip, is out four to six weeks.
Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer, Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz, BYU’s Taysom Hill and Syracuse’s Terrel Hunt had gotten hurt in the season’s opening week. Hill, Hunt and Ertz are expected to miss the remainder of the season. Brewer will miss four to eight weeks with a broken collarbone.
At least in the short term, some of these teams have found a way to succeed without their starting quarterbacks. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and BYU’s Tanner Mangum have provided some of the biggest highlights of the young season since replacing their teams’ injured starters.
Notre Dame trailed Virginia 27-26 before Kizer threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller with 12 seconds remaining in the Irish’s 34-27 victory.
“He just has a confident air about him, and he believes he can go in there and win,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “You love that about a kid that can go in there and get the job done.”
Mangum beat Nebraska with a 42-yard Hail Mary pass to Mitch Mathews in BYU’s opener and followed that up by connecting with Mitchell Juergens for a 35-yard touchdown on a fourth-down play that put the Cougars ahead for good in a 35-24 victory over Boise State, which was ranked 20th at the time.
“We have absolute faith in him,” BYU running back Adam Hine said.
Their jobs only get tougher from here.
No. 19 BYU’s next game is at No. 10 UCLA. Kizer and the eighth-ranked Irish host No. 14 Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Here’s a rundown of some other teams dealing with injured starting quarterbacks:
Nate Romine was helped off the field after getting hit in the right knee while scrambling in a 37-16 victory over San Jose State. There was no immediate update on Romine, who had rushed for 116 yards against San Jose State. Senior Karson Roberts, who made three starts in 2013, replaced Romine.
Reginald Bell threw two touchdown passes but injured his jaw in a season-opening loss to Old Dominion, forcing him to sit out Saturday’s game with Wyoming. Brogan Roback started in Bell’s place and threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns as Eastern Michigan won 48-29 to snap a 14-game road losing streak.
With Ertz sidelined by a knee injury, the Wildcats handed the offense to junior Joe Hubener, a former walk-on. Hubener has rushed for a team-high 96 yards and has completed 51.2 percent of his passes for 390 yards and a touchdown while helping Kansas State beat South Dakota and Texas-San Antonio.
Blake Decker injured his hamstring at the end of the first quarter in a 37-3 loss to UCLA. UNLV hasn’t indicated the severity of Decker’s injury or when he might return. Decker threw for 2,886 yards but also was picked off 18 times last season. Kurt Palandech replaced Decker and went 4 of 15 for 4 yards with an interception.
Mitch has been hospitalized after bruising his hip in a season-opening victory over North Carolina and separating his right shoulder in a 26-22 loss to Kentucky. Junior Perry Orth replaced him and went 13 of 20 for 179 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Orth, a former walk-on, makes his first career start Saturday at No. 7 Georgia.
Hunt injured his right Achilles tendon in a season-opening victory over Rhode Island. Syracuse has handed the quarterback job to freshman Eric Dungey, who threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns without an interception Saturday in a 30-17 triumph over Wake Forest.
Travis Wilson injured his non-throwing shoulder at the end of a 38-yard run in a 24-14 victory Friday over Utah State. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after the game that Wilson’s injury wouldn’t knock him out for the remainder of the season. Whittingham didn’t indicate how much time Wilson might miss. Kendal Thompson, who made two starts last season, replaced Wilson against Utah State. The 21st-ranked Utes visit Fresno State on Saturday.
Brennan Motley was ineffective after replacing the injured Brewer in a 41-24 loss to No. 1 Ohio State, but he bounced back Saturday by throwing two touchdown passes and running for a score in a 42-3 rout of Furman. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said afterward that Motley “never flinched” and that “his play gives us a lot of hope, really.”
Wyoming’s dealing with injuries to two different quarterbacks. Josh Allen started in place of an injured Cameron Coffman and hurt his shoulder in a 48-29 loss to Eastern Michigan. Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said after the game that Allen would miss at least six to eight weeks, though he’s hoping Coffman will return from his knee injury in time for Saturday’s game at Washington State.