Though Ole Miss came up short in Saturday’s 40-24 loss to LSU, the final score wasn’t the only negative news for the Rebels.
Injuring his knee late in the first half, quarterback Shea Patterson is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn PCL. Following the game, he was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, where he received an MRI that confirmed the tear.
It remains unclear whether Patterson will need surgery for his right knee, but recovery will last three to four months.
According to Dr. Austin Barrett, a knee and hip injury specialist for Mississippi Sports Medicine, the main determinant of the length of the healing process is whether there are other injuries or ligaments that were torn at the same time.
“If they have associated injuries that happened alongside, like cartilage or meniscus injuries that were also torn, then there’s a bigger problem,” he said.
In Barrett’s eyes, having a short period of rest is beneficial for PCL injuries, but the sooner the person can start moving and working the knee, the better.
Prior to Saturday, Patterson led the SEC in passing with 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns and only nine interceptions on the season. Without his primary signal-caller, head coach Matt Luke turned to junior Jordan Ta’amu to fill the position.
Ta’amu, who has been in the No. 2 quarterback slot since spring practice, showed Rebel fans he was ready to take charge last Saturday. In two scoring drives against the Tigers on Saturday night, Ta’amu completed 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards and rushed for 20 more, a performance on which Luke can rely.
“Going out there and playing well in his drives, I think that earned him some credibility among all the guys,” Luke said. “I think they were excited that he led two-scoring drives.”
Throughout the week, Ta’amu has practiced with the first-team offense and fit right in. Backing him up, Jason Pellerin has returned to the quarterback position. After relieving Chad Kelly prior to Patterson’s emergence last fall, he moved to a tight end position in the spring.
During the 2016 season, Pellerin completed 11 of 22 passes for 104 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. However, it’s his significant stature and running ability that will be a factor against Arkansas on Saturday.
“As long as we aren’t asking him to run quarterback power inside and things like that, we can’t play in fear,” Luke said about how he plans to use Pellerin. “I think you have to be aware and maybe not overuse him.”
When it comes to other injuries, running back Jordan Wilkins practiced Wednesday and is hopeful to play, while center Sean Rawlings’ return remains unlikely for Saturday. On the other side of the ball, C.J. Moore is also limited but will be a game-time decision.
With the Hawaii native settling in at his new role, Ta’amu, coach Luke and the Rebels continue to work hard and be prepared for an Arkansas team that also is looking for a bounce-back win. The game will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday in Oxford.