HARRISONBURG — The James Madison football team’s quarterback problems just got worse.
JMU announced Tuesday around noon that starting quarterback Michael Birdsong would be out “indefinitely” because of an emergency appendectomy.
The release said Birdsong’s appendectomy is today but did not say when.
“This definitely is disappointing for Michael and the entire program,” JMU coach Mickey Matthews said in a statement. “He had a very solid spring to prepare for the season, so I know he is disappointed personally. We will adapt, starting with today’s practice, and hope that Michael will have a speedy recovery and can be back on the field soon.”
Birdsong — a sophomore who played last season as a true freshman — is the only quarterback with significant college experience on JMU’s roster. The Dukes currently have no No. 2 behind the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder from Matoaca.
The recovery time from an appendectomy, according to various medical websites, is two to four weeks, which puts Birdsong in danger of missing the Dukes’ Aug. 31 season-opener against Central Connecticut State.
If that happens, it is unclear who would be the starting quarterback.
Lafonte Thourogood, a redshirt sophomore who transferred from Vanderbilt in 2012, is the logical choice. He competed for the No. 2 spot behind Justin Thorpe last season, but hamstring injuries cost him the job. The No. 2 role eventually went to Birdsong, who briefly supplanted Thorpe as the starter before injuring his ankle and missing the final two games of the 2012 season.
But Thourogood, other than taking a few snaps in mop-up duty last season, hasn’t played quarterback since starring at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach.
JMU opened preseason practice Monday with Thourogood, a former three-star recruit, playing both quarterback and running back.
The other quarterback options are all true freshmen. Dan Schiele and Alex Girvan are both walk-ons. Lukas O’Connor, while also a true freshman, has an extra year of experience after attending prep school at Avon Old Farms in Avon, Conn. He graduated from Culver City High School (Calif.) in 2011. O'Connor is on scholarship.
Currently, the player on JMU’s roster with the most college experience at quarterback is senior tailback Dae’Quan Scott. The R.E. Lee graduate played the position in wildcat formations and isn’t considered a passing threat.