As originally feared when he was Carta'ed off the field against Georgia, starting QB Austyn Carta-Samuels has a torn ACL. Awful, less-than-timely pun aside (and disregarding the the fact that he walked off the field with no cart involved), the real story is that he played three games on a torn ACL and went 3-0 doing so. Coach James Franklin announced the injury and surgery today after practice.
Carta-Samuels originally injured his left knee on October 19 against Georgia and missed the following two games before returning as a surprise starter against Kentucky. His injury was known to be knee related, but the extent of his injury was not disclosed until today.
While playing on a torn ACL is not unheard of, I can't remember any specific instances that went so successfully. In three wins after his injury, Carta-Samuels went a total of 64-84, a 76.2% completion rate, for a total of 596 yards. He even had a 21-yard run against Wake before having surgery the following week.
Carta-Samuels finishes his season with 2268 yards passing, 11 TDs and 9 INTs in 10 games. Most impressively, he posted a completion rate of 68.7%, which is the most since Jim Looney in 1953. Given that Looney attempted fewer passes in the entire season than Carta-Samuels did post injury, I'm not even sure his number qualifies, so Carta-Samuels may have set the single season record.
Carta-Samuels was seen at the bowl celebration wearing a big knee brace, raising the question of whether he was struggling with his knee or just resting, but we now know that he had already had his surgery. With Carta-Samuels out, Patton Robinette will be the starter for the bowl game. However, the backup situation is less clear.
Third-stringer Josh Grady was injured against Texas A&M, and while it has never been announced, he is not expected to be available. True freshman Johnny McCrary has been third string since Grady went down, but as the staff has kept his redshirt in tact so far they would be loathe to burn it at this point. Coach Franklin noted the staff is looking at players who played QB in high school as possible backups.