You know how, when you're down on your luck, people might tell you that, "No matter how bad things appear, they can always get worse"?
The Miami RedHawks football team is living proof that those people are right.
Last Saturday, fifth-year senior starting quarterback Austin Boucher suffered a knee injury during the fourth quarter of what became a 41-16 loss to the Ohio Bobcats. The extent of the injury is finally known, and Boucher has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The injury ends Boucher's season, as well as his career at Miami University..
Boucher is perhaps most famous for what he accomplished as a redshirt freshman in 2010. Late in that season, Boucher replaced an injured Zac Dysert in a game at Bowling Green. He led the RedHawks to a 24-21 win during a second half played in a dense fog. He was the starting quarterback for the remainder of that 2010 season and led Miami to a win in both the MAC Championship Game and the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Dysert regained the starting role at the beginning of the 2011 season, and Boucher spent his sophomore and junior seasons as Dysert's backup. This year, he finally rose to the top spot on the depth chart.
As awful as Miami's 0-8 season has been, Boucher has played about as well as could be expected. His 1,112 yards of total offense )1,036 passing, 76 rushing) accounts for 61 percent of Miami's offense for the entire season. He averaged 139 yards per game; no one else on the team has averaged more than 36.6 yards.
While Boucher's completion percentage leaves something to be desired, he does have 1,036 yards, and seven of Miami's 11 total touchdowns this season have occurred via his arm.
However, beyond the statistics, Miami simply cannot replace Boucher's experience and leadership. His two backups, Austin Gearing and Drew Kummer, have no starting experience. Gearing is in his first year of eligibility, while Kummer (a sophomore) had one rushing attempt and no passing attempts prior to this season.
Gearing and Kummer's combined passing statistics this year are six completions in 16 attempts for 52 yards. Their longest completion is 16 yards. Neither has a touchdown pass (but neither has an interception, either). As ball carriers, Kummer has eight rushes for 18 net yards and one touchdown. Gearing is actually the team leader in rushing. He has 64 carries for 270 yards (an average of 33.8 per game) but has no scoring runs.
At this point, there is no word about who will start on Tuesday night when Miami hosts Bowling Green or how time will be shared. One thing is for certain, though -- this is just about the last thing Miami needed heading into this game. Bowling Green features one of the MAC's best defenses, and when Tuesday night rolls around, they'll have had ten days to stew over their loss to Toledo. They'll be looking to take out their frustrations on the field, and that's not a situation you want such young, inexperienced quarterbacks walking into.
Of course, Gearing and Kummer only need to look to their fallen teammate for inspiration. Three years ago, against these Falcons, Boucher was in this same position. He made the absolute most of it. Can Gearing and Kummer follow his lead?
Miami may be winless, but football can be a funny game. You just never know what's going to happen.