Down and out: Barker out for the season with torn ACL

Published 4:22 pm Monday, October 8, 2018

Troy head coach Neal Brown announced that junior quarterback Kaleb Barker will miss the remainder of the 2018 season on Monday after tearing his ACL during Thursday’s game against Georgia State.

Barker left the game in the second quarter of Troy’s 37-20 win over the Panthers. He will have surgery on Friday.

“The win came with a cost,” Brown said. “Kaleb Barker tore his ACL. He will be out the remainder of the season. I hate if for him because I think his first quarter on Thursday night was probably – and we’ve had a bunch of good quarterbacks – but I think that’s probably as good as any quarterback has played in my eight years here.”

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Barker has played and started in all six of Troy’s games this season, so he will not be eligible to get a redshirt. Barker is currently fourth in the country in completion percentage at 74.7 percent. He finished with 10 touchdown passes.

“He is getting the surgery early,” Brown said. “Hopefully he will be back throwing for us in spring ball. Just like we say all the time, we have to have a next-man-up program.”

Sawyer Smith, who has also had playing time in all six games this season will be promoted as a starter. Freshman Gunnar Watson, who saw playing time against Florida A&M will assume the backup role and seeing playing time on Saturday against Liberty.

“He’ll be available in the game,” Brown said. “He will play in the game on Saturday.”

Barker exited the game in the second quarter and spent the rest of the half on the Trojan bench. It is not exactly known when the injury occurred, but Brown believes it was some time during the first quarter.

“I’m not sure if it was one direct cut or direct hit or if was something that he already had,” Brown said. “You just don’t know. The MRI shows the tear and he needs to get it fixed.”

Barker ran the first play of scrimmage 75 yards to set the Trojans up at the 5-yard line. Later in the first quarter, Barker connected with Tray Eafford for a 50-yard touchdown. Barker finished the game completing 9 of his 10 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Barker’s second pass came early in the second quarter.

Although Brown believes the injury occurred sometime in the first quarter, he doesn’t believe Barker worsened the injury by trying to play.

It was Barker who approached the coaching staff, telling them that his knee didn’t feel right.

“We don’t believe he furthered the injury,” Brown said. “After his last touchdown pass to Deondre (Douglas), which was a dime, he came off and said his knee didn’t feel quite right. We have some of the best medical care in college athletics, I believe.”

Barker was not the only key piece to get knocked around on Thursday. Tron Folsom left the game and is questionable to return on Saturday.

“Injuries come in bunches,” Brown said. “We went through last year pretty healthy all the way to game 12. We had several that went out of the game on Thursday night. I do think most of those guys will be back. A couple of them will be touch and go.”

Brown announced that Tristan Crowder will return Saturday. Both Kyle and Kevin Nixon are questionable, but Brown expects to know more later in the week.

The Trojans will return to action on Saturday when they take on Liberty beginning at 1:06 p.m.