LINCOLN — Redshirt junior quarterback Aidan Smith is starting today’s game at Nebraska in place of Hunter Johnson, doing so for the first time in his career.
Hunter Johnson, who started the first four games of the season, left the Wisconsin game with a knee injury and was not listed on the injury report this week, indicating he would seemingly be the starter. However, head coach Pat Fitzgerald has opted to go another route.
Smith, who played in the fourth quarter against both Michigan State and Wisconsin, is 12-for-31 with 137 yards passing, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Against Wisconsin, he entered the game with the Wildcats down 14-3. He threw a pick-six on his first drive, but then showed poise and finished 8-20 for 99 yards and a touchdown as NU tried to mount a late comeback.
Johnson, the five-star sophomore transfer from Clemson, has had a shaky start to his Northwestern career. He has completed just 43 of his 89 pass attempts for 367 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. The Brownsburg, Indiana, native has also rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown.
This decision from Fitzgerald is certainly an interesting one, as Johnson definitely seems have more potential on the field (and general mobility) than Smith. Though, Northwestern’s offense has struggled this year and is currently ranked 128th out of 130th in the nation, Johnson isn’t solely to blame for the lack of production.
Regardless of how it turns out, this move will be much-discussed over the coming weeks. Northwestern is hoping the chatter will be positive.