The University of Maine football team will play its last two games with a different number lining up behind center now that Warren Smith is out for the rest of the season with a foot fracture and dislocation.
After a Wednesday morning X-ray revealed a broken bone in the left foot of the quarterback who transferred from Iona College, fellow sophomore Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth was named the starter for Saturday’s game against Rhode Island.
“I was trying to avoid a defender and got tackled from behind. My foot got caught in the ground and all his weight fell on it,” Smith said. “It doesn’t really hurt much.
“I’m walking around in a boot right now. Until I found out, I was preparing to play this weekend. I was even throwing the ball around a little in practice today.”
Neither Smith nor head coach Jack Cosgrove was aware of the severity of the injury, which occurred on the second-to-last offensive drive against James Madison last Saturday. Even postgame X-rays failed to show the break.
“After it happened, he said ‘I’m not coming off the field’ and I said ‘Oh yeah you are. You have to.’ I had to use a timeout to get him back in the game after he convinced me by jumping around the sideline,” Cosgrove said. “We finally had to pull him after a couple of reps because it was painfully obvious he couldn’t go on.
“He saw Dr. [Thompson] McGuire and even after another X-ray didn’t show anything, he felt there was something there so he ordered a weight-bearing X-ray.”
As much as Smith felt he could manage the pain and play, Wednesday’s weight-bearing X-ray made it clear he could not.
“He said we couldn’t wait long for this because the bone is separating in my foot and scar tissue will keep on building up,” Smith explained. “It’s a very rare but severe injury called Lisfranc’s fracture. It’s the same injury that [NFL defensive end] Dwight Freeney had last year.”
Smith will see a foot specialist in Portland today to confirm that surgery is necessary.
“If I need it, it’ll be on Tuesday,” Smith said. “As far as the recovery, they say it varies as far as how long it takes to come back, but without a doubt I should make a full recovery. “A setback always makes for a good comeback.”
In the meantime, the keys to the offense will be handed to Treister, who played high school football at Portland and is 0-for-2 with one interception in two games this season.
“This is obviously an opportunity for Chris to show his ability,” said Cosgrove. “He’ll have a full week of practice and won’t be coming in cold.
“We changed our offense from the start of our season, so to keep going with the offense we’ve been running, the obvious choice is to go to Chris because he’s a similar quarterback. Mike Brusko will continue to fill a variety of roles for us as he has right along.”
It’s a tough end of the season for Smith, who completed 159 of 260 passes (61.2 percent) for 1,695 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
“This is the first serious injury I’ve really had in high school or college,” Smith said. “I was devastated. Because as a competitor, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever heard because no one’s ever told me I can’t play.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Chris. We’ve worked together all year and he’s a smart player. He’s been in the system three years now.”