Whoever starts at quarterback for Utah can certainly expect to take some hits from the opposition. Wide receiver coaches, meanwhile, shouldn’t have any reason to be afraid of being purposely hurt within their own team.
The 17th-ranked Utes won’t name a starting quarterback until game time Saturday night when they face a winless New Mexico team that has been playing under the cloud of continued developments regarding an altercation between coaches.
Terrance Cain started the first seven games for Utah (7-1, 4-0 Mountain West Conference), but coach Kyle Whittingham replaced him with freshman Jordan Wynn in the third quarter of a 22-10 win over Wyoming last Saturday. Wynn threw for 82 yards and a touchdown to help the Utes rally to 19 straight points.
“I believe the time to make change is when you need to, not necessarily when thing aren’t going well and you are in panic mode,” Whittingham said. “We are trying to get better. We would like to blow people out, but that’s not happening. We are trying to find the right combination.”
Cain was 10 for 13 for 121 yards, but also took two sacks that brought Utah back 12 yards and took it out of scoring range. There was a false start between those two sacks, leaving the Utes scoreless after driving to the Wyoming 17.
Cain has been mostly steady, completing 64.0 percent of his passes for 1,624 yards and 11 TDs while getting picked off five times, but Whittingham has been impressed by Wynn and believes Utah’s offense is capable of better performances as it tries to at least remain tied with TCU atop the Mountain West.
“Jordan is mature beyond his years,” Whittingham said. “He does not operate as a true freshman.”
If Wynn gets his first start, it will be against a conference rival in disarray.
The Lobos (0-8, 0-4) have lost 12 straight and their coaches don’t appear to be in any position to guide them out of their rut.
New Mexico coach Mike Locksley was back on the sideline for a 23-20 loss to San Diego State last Saturday. He missed a game while serving a 10-day suspension after being accused of throwing a punch at receivers coach J.B. Gerald on Sept. 20.
Notes released by the university Oct. 30 on an athletic department investigation into the incident confirm Locksley took a swing at Gerald, apparently contradicting what the school had said publicly about the altercation.
The university released photographs of Gerald that include pictures showing a cut lip, an apparent bruise on his neck and a cut or scrape on his arm. According to the notes, offensive line coach Mike Degory restrained Locksley as the coach grabbed Gerald’s throat and choked him.
There have also been problems this season regarding one of Gerald’s pupils, Ty Kirk. The wide receiver is expected to play Saturday after missing two games due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Kirk started six games before the suspension, catching 17 passes for what had been a team-high 206 yards and one TD.
Utah has one of the MWC’s top receivers in David Reed, who has 52 catches for 754 yards and four scores. He averaged a season-low 8.4 yards on seven receptions versus the Cowboys.
Wynn’s touchdown pass went to Jereme Brooks, a 22-yarder in the fourth quarter. Wynn was also helped by yet another strong performance from running back Eddie Wide.
Wide tied a school record with his fifth straight 100-yard game, finishing with 135 and a late TD to seal the victory. He has five TDs in his last four games and is averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
Utah rushed for 198 yards - but only four from Wide - in a 13-10 win at New Mexico on Nov. 1, 2008. Reed was held to one catch for 11 yards.
The Utes lead the series 31-17-2.