Redshirt junior quarterback Steven Duncan sustained a left foot injury in the third quarter of the WKU football team's 38-21 loss to Louisville on Saturday and is out indefinitely, head coach Tyson Helton announced on Monday morning.
"He does have a crack in his foot," Helton said. "Doctors feel like they need to go ahead and put a pin in that, so we are probably losing Steven Duncan for several weeks. I don't know when he would return, but it's something the we felt like we needed to go ahead and do just because of the injury."
Helton said he didn't know about the injury during the game, but Duncan later told Helton he began feeling pain late in the third quarter after he "got kind of twisted up" by a Louisville defender.
Duncan kept playing on "pure adrenaline" until late in the fourth quarter, when Helton said he noticed Duncan "hobbling" on WKU's final series.
Doctors took x-rays of the injured foot and decided on Sunday that it was best for Duncan to have surgery immediately.
Helton said since Duncan is right-handed and pushes off on his right foot when he throws, the injury would've eventually gotten "worse and worse."
Doctors felt like "it was a matter of time before it would break completely across the bone." If that would've happened in practice or a game, Duncan would've faced a "three-to-four month recovery."
But since Duncan is having the surgery before the injury was exacerbated, he will have a shorter recovery time. Still, Helton said Duncan will miss "several weeks" and he's planning to be without his starter for most of the season.
"It's so early, but usually this type of injury is going to keep you out a longer period of time," Helton said. "I would say you're going to be in the latter part of the season and then you're going to have to make a decision — does a guy try to play three or four games to finish the season?"
Helton said he met with Duncan on Monday morning and although Duncan was disappointed, he felt the setback might help his development overall.
"He looks at it just as an opportunity for him to get better because he's not going to be out there," Helton said. "But like he said, 'Hey, I can focus even harder in the film room, I can focus during the game and it may be the best thing in the long run that happens to me.' That was his words."
Heading into the team's first bye week, Helton said he will look at graduate transfer Ty Storey, redshirt sophomore Davis Shanley and redshirt freshman Kevaris Thomas in preparation for the team's next game, which will come on Sept. 28 against Alabama-Birmingham in Houchens-Smith Stadium.
Helton said everyone in WKU's quarterback room has an opportunity to be the "next man up" because they all "bring different skill traits and can do a lot of good things."
WKU might install different packages for different quarterbacks, but Storey is the "obvious" choice right now.
"Ty is kind of the obvious answer," Helton said. "But I really like Shanley, I really like [Kevaris Thomas], so we're gonna leave it open and just try to have the best plan for UAB."
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct that Duncan's injury was to his left foot, not his right foot. Helton mistakenly said the injury was to Duncan's right foot.