The Week Of The Broken QB
Week 12 was the week of the broken quarterback. After Oregon's Dennis Dixon went down with a torn ACL on Thursday night, Hawai'i's Colt Brennan lasted only two snaps before leaving his game on Friday to nurse the concussion that took him out of the last few minutes of the previous week's win. Then on Saturday, the barrage continued, as Michigan's Chad Henne was in and out of his team's loss to Ohio State with a shoulder injury and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was knocked out of his team's loss to Texas Tech with a first-quarter concussion.
The worst casualty of the day was Bradford, Oklahoma's out-of-nowhere star quarterback who had led the Sooners to a 9-1 record and a No. 3 ranking. Bradford, who completed 70 percent of his passes through 10 games, left the first half of Saturday's game with an apparent concussion and did not return, although he spent the second half on the sideline. The redshirt freshman (and the nation's most efficient passer) took a hard hit as he tried to make a tackle following an Allen Patrick fumble, but got up extremely slowly. He then left the stadium area on a golf cart, and did not take the field for the rest of the afternoon.
Joey Halzle came in to replace him, but could not lift the Sooners out of the hole they continued to dig for themselves, eventually dropping a 34-27 decision to the Red Raiders. Oklahoma lost its top-five ranking and its QB in one foul swoop.
Hawai'i could have suffered a similar fate on Friday when quarterback Colt Brennan left the Warriors' game after just two snaps. Brennan was knocked out of the previous weekend's game with a punishing concussion and although he was cleared to play on Friday, he left the field in favor of backup Tyler Graunke after just two plays.
Given that the Warriors were able to pull out a victory on a last-second field goal, the decision to use Graunke may do the Warriors good, because it gave Brennan a chance to rest before next weekend's winner-take-all WAC matchup at home against Boise State. Had Hawai'i lost that one, the decision to sit Brennan would have been met with far more scrutiny, but the Warriors escaped with the victory, so all is well.
Over in Ann Arbor, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne saw his entire senior season flash before his eyes as he moved in and out of the starting group throughout Saturday's home loss to Ohio State. Henne was hampered by a shoulder injury that forced him out of the game in the third quarter, but let him back onto the field in the fourth. Before his first bow-out, he completed just 10 of 25 passes for 60 yards, throwing plenty of off-target passes and not looking anything like the Heisman candidate he was supposed to be at the season's start.
Freshman Ryan Mallett took over the Wolverines' offense in the third quarter but gave the reins back to the senior in the fourth, where Henne was no more effective. Henne has been in and out of games since separating his right throwing shoulder on Oct. 20 in the team's win over Illinois. He started last weekend's loss to WIsconsin but ducked out of that contest early, as well.
With so many signal-callers suddenly having to be leaders from the sidelines, offensive coordinators are going to have to come up with something brilliant to keep their point scorers scoring. Dixon's backup simply cannot run the offense the way Dixon did, and obviously Bradford's second-in-command could not get the job done either, but with the Big 12 championship game still a possibility for the Sooners, Oklahoma's staff is going to have to find an antidote to the QB epidemic, and soon.