HARRISONBURG, Va. - Michael Birdsong is out, Lafonte Thourogood is in.
Birdsong, the true sophomore and starting quarterback of the Dukes, spent Tuesday morning in surgery--an emergency, but successful appendectomy.
No official timeline was given for when Birdsong could be back on the field. WebMd.com says after an appendectomy, patients can return to "normal activities" within 2-3 weeks, but that likely does not translate to taking hits on a football field.
Birdsong's sudden surgery leaves the Dukes with zero active quarterbacks who have ever completed a pass in a collegiate game.
The only Duke with true college quarterbacking experience, is current running back Dae'Quan Scott. Scott started a handful of games as a wildcat quarterback early in his career.
For now, head coach Mickey Matthews says the plan is for redshirt sophomore Lafonte Thourogood to take the reins as starting quarterback. A Vanderbilt transfer, Thourogood battled injuries all last season with JMU, but did take a few snaps vs. Alcorn State. In that limited appearance, Thourogood did not attempt any passes, or record any statistics.
"We always try to turn negatives in to positives. This is an opportunity for Lafonte to get a lot of work, we'll see which of these young guys can handle it," said Matthews.
If Birdsong is unable to play for the first few weeks of the season, the depth chart behind Thourogood is murky at best. No other quarterback on the roster has even taken a snap in a college game.
"We're going to use the next two, three weeks to see who that is, and that's what you have to do," said Matthews. "You always have to have the next man up. I know this is a little different, because it happened so quick, but Michael will be back and this will be an opportunity to work some other guys."
Matthews also said the playbook and preparations wouldn't change much in Birdsong's absence.
The Dukes still playing are a little surprised, but not distracted from their goal.
"As a team you know, we just have to continue on and just when he comes back, we've got to make sure we're better than when he left," said senior linebacker Stephon Robertson.
Just two days in to fall camp, Madison is already dealing with adversity, but it's not something the Dukes can't overcome.
"It was out of the blue when he left, but all we can do is hope he'll be back as soon as possible, and I think he will. Birdsong is a strong kid," Robertson said.
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