It seemed like a medical miracle to see Tony Pike back on the football field taking reps with the first offense less than three weeks after breaking his wrist in the Akron game. Pike remembered the routine play that resulted in the broken bone, but he's still not 100% certain of what happened.
"It was hard to tell on the film. I was throwing across my body and tried to stop a little bit," said Pike. "The defender's helmet hit right on the radius bone and broke it. I fell right on my wrist which probably caused a little more of an injury."
The junior quarterback knew right away that his season was in jeopardy. "I was able to sit up, but it went numb right away. It was a little disfigured so I knew it was pretty serious."
After seeing Drew Frey sustain a similar injury in the first half, Pike thought his potential storybook season was over in less than two games. "It was hard to take. Drew had the same injury, and I talked to him after he came back onto the sideline. He said it would take 6 to 8 weeks for his return. Then I go down, and I hear Dr. Colosimo (team physician) say my injury was the same as Drew's so I was thinking it would be 6 to 8 weeks for me too."
Luckily for Pike, the ex-rays painted a more optimistic picture. "After they took the ex-rays, they saw it was just the radius. When I had the surgery on Monday, Dr. Colosimo told me it would be 3 to 4 weeks, and he was hoping to have me back by UConn."
To help protect the broken bone, UC's medical team has put a type of soft cast from Pike's wrist to just below the elbow of his left arm. Pike tried to describe the protection and how it works.
"It's a little bit of soft casting on there, and pretty much the rest of it is rubberized. If I were to take a hit, it would distribute the hit throughout my arm instead of just in one spot. There's a little more protection where the actual break was."
Despite the injury to Pike, Coach Kelly said he doesn't have any plans to scale back the Cincinnati offense.
"Normally, you'd say you wouldn't use as much direct snap, but we're not a big direct snap team anyway. Maybe we'll run a little of the modified shotgun/pistol offense to run some direct snap or get the back in the home position, which we like in certain situations. Other than that, we'll run what we run offensively. I wouldn't play Tony unless I felt he could do the things he's capable of doing. If we had to pare back, we'd play Chazz."
Pike compared his season to a thrill ride. "It's been a roller coaster ride of getting in there and getting the start and having a little bit of success. Then I had the low point of getting injured like this and being in rehab, but our strength and conditioning staff has done a great job with me, and we're moving along quickly."
This is the second "bye" week of the season, and it has the feel of deju vu for Pike "It was almost the same thing that happened after Oklahoma when Dustin got hurt, and we had Miami coming up. I'll be able to gradually get back into it this week, and we can turn it up on Sunday as we get ready for UConn."
Most teams have only one "bye" week a season. Coach Kelly explained why the Bearcats had two this year. "We set up our schedule this way because of the Hawaii game. Because of that thirteenth game, it allowed a 'bye' to open up for us. When the BIG EAST set up our schedule, we asked that we get another week off since we had a thirteen game schedule. It's worked out well for us since our kids get a chance to recharge their batteries before we get into seven tough games and two within five days."
The broken armed quarterback knows he'll have his hands full with the Huskie defense next week. "They have an unbelievable defense, and they're a tough team to play at home. They don't lose much there. They'll be soldout, and they'll be wanting some revenge after we beat them last year."
Connecticut has the 29th ranked scoring defense in the country giving up only 18.2 points per game.