Just as momentum was building for a Boston College program turning its season around, the Eagles were dealt a major blow Saturday when redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Brown suffered a right knee injury that will end his season.
While coach Steve Addazio wouldn’t detail the specific nature of the injury, Brown will undergo surgery.
“He’ll be 100 percent,” said Addazio. “He’ll be fine. This is a bump in the road. This is nothing more than that. He’s going to be a great player with a great future, and we couldn’t be more excited about what he’s gotten done, what he’s gotten accomplished, and what he’ll do in the future.
“He’s got a great attitude, great mind-set. He’s a tough competitor.”
Addazio handed Brown the keys to the offense after he won a preseason competition with Darius Wade. He became just the second freshman quarterback in BC history to start a season opener.
In 10 starts, Brown threw for 1,367 yards and 11 touchdowns, helping breathe life into an offense that had struggled in recent years.
“I think the most important thing is, for Anthony . . . for him to have a course that he’s going to be on, and we’re rolling forward,” Addazio said. “I think it’s really important in the mind of a champion like Anthony: ‘This is what I’m dealing with. This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to be 100 percent.
“ ‘I’m going to be back ready to roll, and I’m going to be grateful for the year that I had, grateful for the unbelievable experience I had. It’s going to make me a better player.’ In his mind, he’s going to have an unbelievable year next year.”
With Brown out, the Eagles will turn to Wade, and Addazio is forced to make freshman E.J. Perry the backup quarterback, burning the Andover High School product’s redshirt.
Wade has appeared in seven games this season, completing 23 of 40 passes for 225 yards. When Brown went down with a shoulder injury in the win over Louisville last month, Wade filled in and connected on 7 of 10 passes for 91 yards, helping the Eagles pull off a come-from-behind win that sparked a three-game winning streak. They are in position to secure a bowl berth for the fourth time in five years.
But in Saturday’s 17-14 loss to North Carolina State, Wade struggled to get the ball out quickly, taking five sacks.
Addazio didn’t rule out the possibility of Perry seeing the field if need be, but he is confident in Wade.
“Obviously, Darius has been preparing hard and preparing well,” Addazio said. “E.J. Perry is completely on board and ready to play. As he said, ‘I came here to be part of this team. I came here because it’s a privilege, not a right. I’m going to do everything I can to help this football team win, whether you need me for one snap or 50.’ ”
“You’ve got to appreciate that kind of mind-set from a competitor. He’s ready to roll. Darius is ready to roll.”
The Eagles have walked through a minefield of injuries all season, losing senior linebacker Connor Strachan prior to the season with a knee injury, then losing senior center Jon Baker to an ACL injury in the opener, then losing sophomore linebacker Max Richardson for the year after a knee injury against Clemson.
All-American defensive lineman Harold Landry has missed the past two games with an ankle injury. He hasn’t practiced in three weeks, and Addazio described his status as “week-to-week.” He was hesitant to say that Landry might be out of the year as well.
“I don’t know that,” Addazio said. “I don’t know that he won’t play Saturday. I just don’t know that. That’s up to our medical team.”
With two games left in the season, the Eagles need one win to secure a bowl berth. They face Connecticut Saturday at Fenway Park. The injuries have made the road to another postseason appearance that much more challenging, but Addazio is encouraged by the way the team has been able to overcome the losses.
“I don’t see a lot of guys sucking their thumb,” Addazio said. “Which usually means you have some real — you know, we don’t have a lot of selfishness. We’ve just got a lot of guys locked into ‘What can I do?’ And whatever capacity I have to help our team win. That’s why I’ve been so excited about this team, and I continue to be.”