Last year, Houston Heisman candidate QB Case Keenum was injured in the third game of 2010 against UCLA. He tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and was forced to sit out for the season.
Backup QB Cotton Turner took over, but before the end of the game, he injured his clavicle and also sat out the entire season. With nine scheduled games remaining and potentially 11 games to play depending on the team's success, Head Coach Kevin Sumlin was forced to look to his reserve quarterbacks.
Terrance Broadway and David Piland competed for the job with Piland ultimately taking the reins and leading Houston to a 5-7 (4-4) record on the season. Keenum petitioned the NCAA for another year of eligibility and will be the Cougars' starting quarterback in 2011.
While running routes during a practice session Monday, UCF slot receiver and backup QB Rob Calabrese tore his ACL for the second year in a row (Marshall 2010, out for season) and is done for the 2011 season. RS Freshman Blake Bortles was already slotted to handle the backup duties and Calabrese would have been an emergency option.
The Knights looked to DaMarcus Smith, a highly touted 4-star recruit from the 2011 class, to fill the gap, but Smith failed to qualify academically with the NCAA Clearinghouse and is ineligible for the season.
While UCF hopes for Smith's eligibility in January and the return of Calabrese for a RS Senior season, the need for an emergency backup (or two) would let the UCF offensive line rest easier at night. As unlikely a situation as losing both the starting and backup quarterback would be, Houston's misfortune gives us a relevant example of exactly how necessary depth is at every position.
For now, UCF will look to WR A.J. Guyton to fill the emergency role. The former-quarterback-turned-wide-receiver has already accepted the position and has expressed his desire to help the team wherever possible.
In the meantime, if you know any college kids with some quarterback experience and some free time over the next 5 months, tell them to call Coach Taafe.