Mickey Matthews says backup quarterback Justin Thorpe's knee injury is worse than originally diagnosed.
As a result, true freshman Jace Edwards is expected to make his college debut Saturday when James Madison visits No. 10 Virginia Tech.
Matthews said Monday that an MRI on Thorpe's left knee, which he injured on a run late in the second quarter of JMU's season-opening 48-7 win over Morehead State Saturday, revealed significant bone bruising.
"He could easily be done for the year," Matthews said. "But we're going to be positive about it, and hopefully he can get back for the last two, three games. Maybe get back the last four, five games."
Matthews said the ligaments in the knee are sound, and the injury won't require surgery. Thorpe is expected to be on crutches for six weeks.
"You've heard me say it before, that Justin had his best fall camp. I was really encouraged how well he responded to the backup role this fall, because he competed very hard, and was really getting ready in case he was going to be the guy," said Matthews.
"We were just really happy with what he was doing, and this happened to us," he added. "And it's part of the game, but it was a down Sunday. I'll be honest with you."
Thorpe's knee was originally believed to be hyperextended, and he was only expected to miss two weeks. Based on that diagnosis, Matthews held Edwards out of Saturday's win.
"If I would have known it was going to be this long, I would have pulled Jace Edwards' redshirt, and he would have played the entire second half Saturday," Matthews said. "One, it would have been a lot more fun for everybody to watch. But even more importantly than that, Jace would have gotten those 30 or 40 plays of live work that would really have been good for him."
Edwards will prepare as Drew Dudzik's backup for Saturday's trip to Blacksburg, and Matthews expects the freshman to see the field this week.
"We're going to break him in against Virginia Tech," he said.
Filling Thorpe's void in JMU's Wildcat package is still up for question, Matthews said. On Monday, he mentioned receivers Kerby Long, Kavon Seaton, Dae'Quan Scott and Quintin Hunter as possibilities.
Long has practiced at quarterback at JMU in the past. Seaton was the third-string quarterback last year, before moving to receiver. Scott was an all-state quarterback at nearby R.E. Lee High School, and Hunter spent time at quarterback and receiver at Virginia before transferring to JMU.
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