As if the Bowling Green Falcons' 59-31 season-opening loss to Western Kentucky this past Friday wasn't bad enough, BG fans just got more reason to be worried about this season. As first reported by John Wagner of the Toledo Blade the Falcons' starting quarterback Matt Johnson is done for the season after suffering an injury in the loss:
#bgsu football: QB Matt Johnson suffered hip injury and will miss rest of season.— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) September 3, 2014
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning, after the media were done asking questions, Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers informed those in attendance that he wanted to make an announcement.
"In the fourth quarter Matt Johnson received an injury during the game (this past Friday), and he'll be out for the entire year," Babers said, adding, "I don't know if I want to get into (the details). It was a hip injury, and based off of whatever the treatment is going to be, most likely he's going to be done for the year."
Babers wouldn't give specifics about the injury, saying he's "not a doctor", but said he just found out about the severity of the injury Tuesday night. According to a source close to the situation, Johnson received X-Rays shortly after the game that were inconclusive, and MRI Tuesday revealed a small crack in his hip.
To say this is a big blow to the Bowling Green Falcons would be a vast understatement. Johnson took over the starting role in Week 1 of 2013, replacing fourth-year starter Matt Schilz in the first quarter of their season opener vs. Tulsa in 2013. He promptly emerged as one of the MAC's best quarterbacks.
He threw for 3,467 yards, 25 touchdowns (to just seven interceptions) and completed 64.2 percent of his passes while leading BGSU to their first MAC Championship in 22 seasons. His best performance of 2013 came in the MAC Championship, where he torched NIU's secondary to the tune of 393 yards and five touchdowns on 21 of 27 passes.
Heading into his junior season, with new head coach Dino Babers' up-tempo Baylor-style offense in place, Johnson was expected to have a huge season. His team was a heavy favorite to win the East and repeat as the MAC champions this fall.
In the Falcons' game against WKU on Friday, Johnson and BG's offense took a while to warm up, but he still managed to throw for 313 yards and a touchdown (completing just under 70 percent of his throws) before leaving the game in the fourth quarter in favor of backup James Knapke after taking a big hit on a sack.
Knapke, a redshirt sophomore, will start in place of Johnson Saturday when the Falcons face VMI at home at 3:30 p.m., according to Babers. When asked if the injury made Knapke the starter, Babers replied "absolutely."
"James is our quarterback. He's getting the snaps," Babers said.
When asked how Knapke handled the news that he'd be starting, Babers told the media that he wasn't sure Knapke even knew yet.
"I think all college football players understand that you're always one play away (from starting), especially at that position. [The media] may be the first to break it to James," he said.
Suddenly, the MAC East just got a lot more interesting.
UPDATE: We've updated this article with quotes from head coach Dino Babers' Wednesday morning press conference.