Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin said Monday that quarterback Grant Gunnell’s shoulder injury is still being evaluated and his status for Saturday’s game against Colorado—and the rest of the season—is unclear.
“We’ll see where he is,” Sumlin said. “If he can go, he can go. If not, I think it’s too early to even talk about that. I’m not gonna go specifically on where he is right now, but he wants to play. He and his family, in our conversations and with our medical team ... we’re going to do the best thing for him and his career.”
Gunnell exited after one snap in Saturday’s 27-10 loss at UCLA. A free rusher slammed him to the turf, causing him to crash violently on his right side.
Sumlin declined to give any specifics on the injury other than that it’s a shoulder injury.
“This is college football, I don’t have to,” he said.
Here's how Arizona QB Grant Gunnell got injured. Took a huge hit from a free rusher and landed hard on his right shoulder. pic.twitter.com/FdVyBVmtPT— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) November 29, 2020
True freshman Will Plummer made his UA debut in Gunnell’s place and completed 17 of 35 passes for 151 yards and two interceptions, while also running for 49 yards.
“For a guy that has never played at this level, to go out there and do what he did, I thought it was a pretty good performance,” Sumlin said. “Could he have been better? Yeah, there’s mistakes he made. He made plays with his legs. With one-play notice, 20-second notice (to) get in there and do what he did, I think he he performed the way he’s performed during practice. The two picks are not necessarily his fault. We had routes ... that guys broke off and he’s anticipating something. He got to hit a bunch, but he’s a tough guy and he moved the chains.”
Arizona’s offensive line allowed nearly 20 hurries, a reason you could argue it’s in Gunnell’s best interest to sit out the rest of the season. Otherwise, he could aggravate his injury. Not to mention this season does not count towards his, or any player’s, eligibility clock due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Then again, Gunnell showed last season that he wants to play. He turned down a redshirt opportunity so that he could split snaps with Khalil Tate, which he said was valuable game experience.
And if Plummer plays well, there is no guarantee Gunnell will get his job back.