All week long, Florida coaches, players and fans have been locked in on the injury status of Utah quarterback Cam Rising, who is recovering from an ACL tear suffered in January.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Rising is doubtful for Thursday’s contest. Junior Bryson Barnes should get the start for Utah with Rising sidelines, and redshirt freshman Nate Johnson is also expected to play in a “change-of-pace role.”
Florida should have an easier time containing Barnes compared to Rising, who is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Utah has won back-to-back conference championships, and Rising was the unquestioned team leader a season ago.
There’s also a chance that the Utes are down another significant offensive piece in tight Brant Kuithe. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham did not provide updates on Kuithe, who tore his ACL last September. The timeline is right for a return, but it’s not public knowledge whether he’s officially cleared to play or not.
Billy Napier said that the team was preparing for “all of the above” earlier in the week, so the Gators will have a plan for Barnes and Johnson. If the defense can manage to stop the run game early, Florida could take advantage of two inexperienced signal callers.