Healthy optimism for No. 7 UH, but what about QB Greg Ward Jr.?

CINCINNATI — Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. admitted Thursday that his shoulder hurts most when he’s throwing, yet he does not intend to stop doing that.

He does not intend to stop scrambling and taking hits, either.

“I’m just doing what I can for my team,” Ward said after the Cougars’ 40-16 win against Cincinnati. “It doesn’t matter how I was feeling.”

And what Ward can do is, at times, quite breathtaking.

His instincts and speed on the ground come naturally; with a healthy shoulder, he can toss touchdowns with ease. But the healthy shoulder is what the rest of No. 7 Houston’s season may hinge on — and with it, the Cougars’ College Football Playoff chances.

“He finished the game, and he finished the game strong,” Herman said. “His numbers were strong. … (His arm) was going to have to be hanging off for him to come out of the game.”

The 5-11, 185-pound senior said he’s “not worried” about his shoulder, and that the only one who can take him off the football field is God.

“I just kept praying about it,” Ward said. “God blessed me to go out there.”

 

The good news — if such a thing exists regarding a lingering injury to a star quarterback’s throwing shoulder — is that Ward’s injury cannot get worse by playing. And, thanks to a manageable schedule until a Nov. 17 matchup against No. 10 Louisville, there could be plenty of opportunities to rest Ward in the coming weeks, even if only in practice. (He missed last week’s game against Lamar.)

“My understanding is it’s healing, and it should heal completely eventually,” Herman said. “But that’s going to take some time. I’ve been reassured by the doctors that he’s at no greater risk for damaging it further than he was before the injury, so the healing process is one that we’re going to have to continue to manage.”

Houston is now 3-0 and inching its way closer to the four-team Playoff conversation — but the way it manages this injury may prove more critical than any in-game situation


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