Sophomore Quarterback Chris Helbig’s injury will likely cost him the season.
Southern Utah has not disclosed the injury, but they have already begun preliminary paperwork to get the NCAA to grant a medical hardship season for Helbig, per The Spectrum.
Helbig went down on the last play of the first half in the T-Birds’ week four matchup against Northern Arizona. Helbig was driven to the ground by cornerback Brandon Worthy, and Helbig’s shoulder appeared to recieve the entire weight of Worthy’s body.
Here’s a video of the play:
Helbig’s injury is one that is commonly experienced by quarterbacks who land on their shoulders and are driven into the ground by the defender. This type of injury often leads to injuries like a broken collarbone (see: Aaron Rodgers in 2017), a strained shoulder (see: Sam Bradford in 2011), a sprained or torn AC joint (see: Jimmy Garoppolo in 2016), or a dislocation of the shoulder (see: Trevor Siemian in 2017).
If the team had hopes that Helbig could return later in the season, it is unlikely that it would have started the preliminary paperwork for a medical redshirt so soon after the injury.
The type of hit that likely knocked Helbig is the exact kind of hit that the NFL is trying so desperately to eradicate because it can be so dangerous to the quarterback.
Helbig earned the starting job on the last day of fall camp. He contributed greatly in the first four games of the season, leading the team in total offense. But with the team’s 0-5 start, it doesn’t make sense to rush Helbig back.
The last time SUU started 0-5 was 2007, when the Thunderbirds went winless, finishing the season with a 0-11 record.
Junior Quarterback Aaron Zwahlen has been the replacement since Helbig went down. The University of Hawaii transfer played well against Northern Arizona in relief of the injured Helbig, but appeared uncomfortable against No. 4 Eastern Washington last week.
This will be Zwahlen’s first time with the offense truly at his disposal. For perhaps the first time in his collegiate career, Zwahlen will have time to prepare and see the offense as his own. This should help him establish greater rapport with the first-team offense, and maybe even grant him a chance to show T-Bird Nation why he was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: Easton Bowring
Video courtesy of: Northern Arizona Strategic Communications