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Jamarye Joiner ‘doubtful’ for Homecoming game vs. Cal with knee injury

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The Arizona Wildcats are down another quarterback, at least technically.

Jamarye Joiner, who over the past three games had been transitioning into a dual role as both wide receiver and quarterback, is unlikely to play in Arizona’s Homecoming game against Cal due to a right knee injury suffered against USC.

“I do not believe he’ll be able to go this week, I’m not positive on that,” UA coach Jedd Fisch said during his Monday press conference. “It does not seem to be season-ending. He’ll have to wear a brace, play with a brace. Nothing surgical, (just) more rehab on the knee. I would put him as doubtful for this game. But I would expect him to hopefully come back before the season ends.”

Joiner, a redshirt sophomore, was 2 for 4 for 75 yards in the 41-34 loss at USC including a 73-yard touchdown pass to Tayvian Cunningham on Arizona’s first possession. He played 14 of his 19 snaps against the Trojans at QB, up from 10 the week before against Washington and two at Colorado on Oct. 16.

Recruited to the UA as a quarterback, Joiner played in two games at that position as a true freshman in 2018 before getting converted to wide receiver the following summer. He led the Wildcats in receiving yards and TDs in 2019 but since then has twice dealt with foot injuries that required surgery.

He made his 2021 debut in Week 3 against NAU and for the season has two passing TDs, a rushing score and caught two passes for 15 yards.

“I love Jamarye,” Fisch said after the USC game. “He was a wide receiver who was hurt in the spring game, had his second surgery and missed all of the summer and most of training camp, and just has been thrown into the fire of, now you’re a quarterback. Actually you’re a running back, you’re a receiver, now we’re gonna go from you as quarterback to you at receiver within the same down. He’s just embraced it. I think he’s one of those players that the more you give them, the better he is.”

With Joiner likely sidelined against Cal, Will Plummer figures to take every snap at QB. He’s coming off the best game of his career, throwing for 264 yards and rushing for 31 against USC, saying something “clicked” during the most recent week of practice.

“I think confidence is what kind of clicked, would be my guess,” Fisch said. “His ability to just kind of (have it) slow down for him. We encouraged him all week (to) be aggressive. You can’t just play the game to not make a mistake, that usually is what gets you. It seemed as if as the practice week went on ... he was just more aggressive so the ball was kind of flying down the field more and I think that maybe that kind of message clicked with him of just like hey, let it rip. I think he understands the offense better.”

Other injury updates

Two starters who missed the USC game are likely to return to action this Saturday, Fisch said.

Tight end Bryce Wolma, whose 29 career starts are third-most on the team, is expected back after sitting out with an undisclosed injury. Same goes for defensive lineman Kyon Barrs, who has missed the last two games.

Safety Gunner Maldonado, who missed the Washington game and only played three snaps against USC, could also returned depending on how his shoulder holds up this week in practice.

On the uncertain front are offensive lineman Donovan Laie and defensive linemen Mo Diallo and Paris Shand, none of whom practiced Sunday and aren’t expected to practice Monday. Fisch said Laie and Shand “were a little dinged up during the game” while Diallo couldn’t finish due to a hip pointer that he had an MRI on.

Also hurt against USC was wide receiver Boobie Curry, who started but only played three snaps. Fisch said he’ll be back for Cal though he’s got more competition at the X-receiver position after true freshman Dorian Singer made his college debut against USC and had three catches for 65 yards.