Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels has had surgery on his left knee to repair a torn ACL, ending the senior’s career and making James Franklin’s job a bit tougher heading into bowl season. Carta-Samuels played three games with the ACL tear and deserves massive praise for being so selfless. According to Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean, the coach was “emotional” and “teary-eyed” while addressing his quarterback’s status.
“Really proud of that kid,” Franklin said. ”He rehabbed and was able to come back and was able to get a brace that he was able to practice and play in. He put the team above himself, and then he had surgery right when the season ended, and he’s going to try to get ready for his Pro Day.”
One must assume that Franklin and team physicians determined that Carta-Samuels was not in danger of doing any further damage to his knee by playing on it.
With Carta-Samuels out, the Commodores will turn to backup Patton Robinette. The redshirt freshman is more of a runner than a passer, which will likely impact Vandy’s gameplan against Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
For the season, Carta-Samuels was 193-0f-281 (68.7%) for 2,268 yards, 11 TDs and nine interceptions. Robinette was 40-of-69 (58.0%) for 488 yards, two scores and three picks. He did run for six additional touchdowns. Vanderbilt defeated Georgia and Florida with Robinette at quarterback, but they also lost at Texas A&M. When Carta-Samuels returned against Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest — all wins — Robinette continued to be used as an occasional change-of-pace quarterback.
Still, going from a two-quarterback attack with an established passer to a one-QB attack with a so-so passer won’t be easy against quality competition. If the Commodores defeat 8-4 Houston it will be just the team’s third win over a winning team in the past two years. Also, Franklin will have to make sure his team is up for Birmingham’s BBVA Compass Bowl. Since Vandy’s holiday destination was announced, VU fans have complained loudly and consistently about their team’s trip. They now need to hope that their moaning hasn’t impacted their team’s view of the game.
We would expect Franklin to actually use the gripes as a motivation for his team. ”We deserved better, now let’s go out and prove it.” They’ll just have to do so with one half of the quarterback tandem that led them to their last three victories.