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Crimson Corner: QB controversy on the hill?

Crimson Corner: QB controversy on the hill?



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — It was a beautiful fall morning. The leaves were slightly swaying in the cool breeze, contrasting with the blue sky. Fall football - no better way to spend an October morning.

Then, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham rocked the Utes football world.

Utah (2-3) vs. UCLA (4-2)
Game Notes
  • Utah (2-3, 0-2 Pac-12) vs. UCLA (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12)
  • Date: Saturday, Oct. 13
  • Time: Noon PDT
  • Site: Rose Bowl (91,500/Grass) Pasadena, Calif.
  • TV: FOX
  • Radio: ESPN700, SIRIUS/XM (139/201)
  • Series Record: UCLA leads 8-2
  • Last Meeting: 2011 (Utah 31-6)
  • Kickoff Weather: Sunny, temps near 70

Whittingham was asked by ESPN 700's Bill Riley about the progression of freshman QB Travis Wilson, who has been played sparingly through the Utes' first five games. And by sparingly, I really do mean sparingly. Wilson's passing season statistics are as follows: ten attempts with eight completions for 98 yards. He is also credited with seven yards rushing, albeit he did have two scores against Northern Colorado.

We all knew that the Utes are working towards having Wilson be the quarterback of the future, but after Whittingham's reply to Riley's question, I didn't realize the future could be oh so soon.

"(Travis) has made strides every week since he got on campus. He is a guy that you will see play this week, just like he has in every other ballgame. How much he plays is still being determined, but we are pleased with what he has done when he has gotten his opportunities," Whittingham said.

Good so far, but when asked a follow up question regarding what elements Wilson needs to work on, Whittingham replied, "Across the board, commanding the entire offense, and experience, which only comes through playing games. But he has really done a nice job and its very close between him and Jon."

Pressed a little further and asked specifically whether or not he was in contention for a starting position by 1320 KFAN's Ben Wilson, Whittingham said, "Sure, yeah, he is pushing that. Absolutely. No doubt about it."

I couldn't have been more wrong regarding Utah's quarterback situation.

First, I thought that Jordan Wynn actually had the potential to stay healthy for an entire season. He barely made it through one game.

Then, after watching Jon Hays play, especially against BYU and USC, I thought he had turned a corner. The way that he stood up in the pocket, took a hit, yet still was able to find a DeVonte Christopher or Kenneth Scott down the sideline was impressive. He looked remarkably better, not only in throwing the ball, but in being a leader of the offense.

My thoughts last night on The U Fan Cast were stating that based on right now, the way this team is set up, that Jon Hays gives Utah the best chance to win.

So, as you can tell, today's post-practice comments by Whittingham were about as unexpected as seeing hamburgers served at Del Taco.

#poll

Who do you want to see line up as Utah's starting quarterback against UCLA on Saturday? I'd love to get your feedback on this, give me a shoutout via Twitter @rojackKSL or email rojackson@ksl.com.

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Another comment worthy of note was Whittingham talking about needing to see wide receiver Kenneth Scott get more touches. Scott has risen to a starter on the depth chart, and during the media observance at practice he made three spectacular catches going up and battling a corner for the football.

Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Lya Wodraska asked Whittingham about Scott and the need for the Utes to get him the ball more.

"We have to get him the ball more, get him more involved. It seems like every time we throw it to him he comes down with it. That is on us as coaches to do a better job of designing things for Kenneth and getting him more touches and opportunities. That's something that we've been looking at and we've already talked about that several times in the last week or two."

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Miscellaneous notes for Utah's upcoming game with UCLA:

  • Utah hopes to snap a two-game losing streak after starting its Pac-12 season with losses to Arizona State and USC. Last season, the Utes started 0-4 in conference play before winning their next four Pac-12 games, including a 31-6 victory over UCLA.
  • Utah trails the series 8-2 but has won the last two games with UCLA in 2007 and 2011. The Utes are looking for their first win on UCLA's home turf, where they are 0-5.
  • Kyle Whittingham is 2-1 against UCLA with wins in Salt Lake City in 2007 and 2011 and a loss in Pasadena in 2006.
  • Utah's only previous appearance on FOX was the 2009 Sugar Bowl--a 31-17 Utah win over Alabama.
  • Utah starting sophomore wide receiver Dres Anderson's father Flipper played wide receiver for UCLA from 1984-87. He led the Bruins in receiving yards in 1986 and 1987 and ranks 10th in school history with 2,023 yards. A second-round draft pick, he played in the NFL for 10 years.
  • Utah leads the nation in forced fumbles with 13. Opponents have fumbled the ball a total of 18 times.

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Robert Jackson

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