Mertz was X-rayed immediately after walking off the field, revealing a collarbone injury that should sideline him for the rest of the season. He returned to the sideline in a sling to finish watching the game and Napier left the door open for a return, but a second X-ray on Sunday confirmed that Mertz’s season was over.
“We took another image yesterday. We felt good about that image,” Napier said. “We’re going to basically go in a two-week period here where we’re going to give it a chance for the fracture to start the process of growing back and then we’ll reevaluate things.
“In the meantime, we’re going to do exhaustive research on like cases in college football and in the National Football League, relative to players that have been through similar injuries. Just making sure we’re giving him the best map for him going forward with the rest of his career.”
Mertz finished the season just 97 yards shy of 3,000 yards. He threw 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions, two of which were off a receiver’s hands. Mertz was one of the most accurate quarterbacks all year long, finishing Week 13 inside the top five for completion percentage (73%).
The Gators will turn to redshirt freshman Max Brown, who has played one whole quarter of college football so far. Florida State will also use a backup at quarterback, though, so both teams are playing unfamiliar games.
“(Brown)’s been working hard since the first day he got here,” Napier said. “He’s improved. I think the players, he’s got good connection and camaraderie with the players. They see him every day. They know who he is and what he’s capable of.”