The UA is officially down to one healthy scholarship quarterback for the rest of the 2021 season.
Arizona coach Jedd Fisch confirmed Monday that redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz is done for the year after suffering a thumb injury in Saturday’s 34-0 loss at Colorado.
“It seems like it’ll be about a 6-month rehabilitation from what I understand,” Fisch said. “So it’s a pretty significant injury.”
Cruz, who was making his third start of the season, suffered the injury on a 14-yard run midway through the third quarter. He attempted to stiff-arm a defender but his hand slipped on the Colorado player’s helmet, leading to the injury.
Three plays later Cruz was intercepted, with the Buffaloes returning the pick 50 yards for a touchdown that made it 20-0 at the time.
Cruz was 13 of 22 for 82 yards before getting hurt. For the season he threw for 536 yards and two TDs with three interceptions. He is the second quarterback to incur a season-ending injury, with redshirt sophomore Jordan McCloud hurting his right knee and ankle in the fourth quarter of the Oct. 9 home loss to UCLA.
Fisch said McCloud had successful ankle surgery on Friday, while his knee injury only requires rehabbing, and is expected to be back by January for offseason workouts.
Freshman Will Plummer, who came in for Cruz against Colorado, will make his third career start on Friday at home against Washington. Plummer, who started against NAU this season and last year against Colorado, has thrown for 380 yards with two TDs and three picks in 2021.
Fisch said walk-on Luke Ashworth will be the backup, while walk-on Brayden Zermeno is the No. 3 quarterback for now.
Because Plummer is the only healthy scholarship quarterback, expect wide receiver Jamarye Joiner to get more reps at that position, though Fisch said as of now there are no plans to move him into the QB room. The No. 18 dual-threat passer in the 2018 recruiting class, Joiner appeared in two games at QB as a true freshman before getting converted to receiver the following offseason, but he lined up in the backfield on several plays against Colorado.