It's tough being the backup to a Heisman Trophey candidate.
Yet Jeff Schwinn is tougher than one may think.
So tough, in fact, that when he injured his hand last week against McNeese State, nobody even realized it.
Sources have confirmed that Schwinn did indeed injure himself against the Cowboys, dislocating a finger on his non-throwing hand. Rather than following teammate Ell Roberson to the emergency room, however, Schwinn became his own medic.
He simply walked to the sideline and popped it back into place.
Rumors had been circulating after the game, and Coach Bill Snyder was quick to discount any injury to his backup-turned starting quarterback.
When Schwinn was asked Tuesday about a potential injury, particularly to his hand, he simply said, "It works," and wiggled his fingers.
"I think there's a lot of critics out there still thinking that I can't do the same things that Ell is doing," Schwinn said. "I just want to go out there and prove people wrong, if that's the case.
Things aren't expected to get too much easier for Schwinn this weekend as he prepares to make his first career start for the Wildcats. The former walk-on from McLouth, Kan. was just 4-of-15 after replacing Roberson, throwing for 83 yards and a touchdown.
"I don't feel any pressure," Schwinn said. "I really want to redeem for the way I played last weekend. I didn't think I played real well, and now I got the chance and I am looking forward to it."
Schwinn did see action last season in a third-string role, completing 7-of-12 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. In fact, in the three games he played last season, largely in mop-up duty, Schwinn's pass efficiency rating was more than 20 points higher than that of Roberson.
"They've seen Jeff and understand Jeff's a very fine player," Coach Bill Snyder said. "When Darren got nicked up a week or so ago, everybody moves on and you go to the next guy. They have great respect for Jeff and what he's capable of doing."
While those numbers might not be enough to put the entire Wildcat nation at ease, at least one person is – fellow backup Dylan Meier.
"There is probably not a happier person than myself for Jeff," he said. "I see what he goes through day after day and there's not one person more deserving than Jeff Schwinn. He goes out there every day as if he is the number one quarterback."
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