North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell is dealing with an upper-body injury that could sideline him for what coach Mack Brown said will be his final home game Saturday against Wofford.
Team spokesman Jeremy Sharpe said Monday that Howell is considered day-to-day with an injury to his non-throwing side after last week’s overtime loss at Pittsburgh and would be a gametime decision. Brown later said Howell would spend the week working with team doctors and it was unclear how much he might practice, though the junior is expected to be ready for the regular-season finale at 25th-ranked rival North Carolina State on Nov. 26.
“He wants to play Saturday,” Brown said. “If he can, he will.”
Brown had said in preseason that the team was treating this year as though it would be the last for Howell, who has started every game for the Tar Heels dating to his time as a true freshman during Brown’s second tenure in Chapel Hill. Howell has gone on to set the program’s career records for passing yardage, passing touchdowns, touchdown responsibility and total offense while making himself a high NFL draft prospect.
“I haven’t thought Sam was coming back since last year,” Brown said. “I have never had one thought about him coming back, and he’s going to be a first-round draft choice. So I think he should leave.”
Howell has never missed a college game and has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every one. He currently is seventh in the Bowl Subdivision ranks in total offense (343 yards per game) thanks to an expanded running game that has seen him have six games with at least 98 yards rushing.
But he’s taken a beating this year behind a veteran offensive line that has struggled with injuries at center and inconsistency. UNC has surrendered 39 sacks, tied with Tennessee for the most allowed by any power-conference team.
If Howell can’t play, sophomore Jacolby Criswell or freshman Drake Maye would start for the Tar Heels (5-5) against the Terriers (1-9) of the Championship Subdivision’s Southern Conference.
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