SALT LAKE CITY — Terrance Cain admits it wasn't easy. Despite a successful tenure as Utah's starting quarterback, the junior college transfer relinquished the role to true freshman Jordan Wynn midway through the eighth game of the 2009 season.

"When it started off it was hard for me," Cain said. "But I had to see the bigger picture and I just put it in perspective. It's for the team. It's not about me. And whatever works for the team is great."

The Utes, who were 7-1 with Cain as the starter, went on to cap a 10-win season with a 37-27 victory over California in the Poinsettia Bowl. Wynn was named the game's Offensive MVP.

Cain, meanwhile, provided continual support for his teammate. The quarterbacks drew close while working together each day.

"He's one of my better friends on the team and he's had nothing but a good attitude throughout this whole thing," Wynn said. "He's a great quarterback, to go 7-1 that just shows what kind of quarterback he is."

Although Cain is no longer the starter, he's been given another title by quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.

"Terrance is probably the most unselfish player on this team," Johnson said. "He understands the situation."

As the backup, Cain is putting his stamp on the role.

"It's not about me. It's about the team. There's no 'I' in team. So whatever is working for the team, that's what I'm down for," Cain said. "I keep pushing Jordan like I'm the starter to make him better. Right now it's been working, so that's all I'm doing."

Cain is certainly not fading into the background. The senior has excelled in Utah's three camp scrimmages. He's completed 44-of-56 passes for 530 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception.

"That's the kind of guy he is. Terrance Cain is a first-class individual," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of the quarterback's attitude and approach. "He's had a tremendous camp. We are very fortunate to have him as our backup quarterback.

"He's a team guy and that's what you want," Whittingham continued. "You coach because of guys like Terrance Cain. That's what makes coaching enjoyable."

Johnson said that Cain's character is part of a bigger picture at Utah.

"He's a stand-up guy and we really appreciate that. That's the kind of guys that make this program great," Johnson explained. "I'm not so sure it's that way around the rest of the country. So, we're extremely fortunate to have the type of guys that we have and it goes to show how hard our coaches work to recruit those type of guys — those type of personalities that put the team first."

The latter motivates Cain. It's why he doesn't hold a grudge or any animosity about how things have turned out.

"You can't worry about it. You can't like hold onto it because you end up hurting the team," he said. "So I just keep it going, keep working hard."

As such, everyone is improving.

"Terrance is playing extremely well right now and I think it's making both quarterbacks better," Johnson said. "The way he's playing, the way Jordan's playing, I couldn't be more proud of the group of guys that I have to coach."

And while noting it's a tough situation for Cain, Johnson acknowledged it's great for Utah because the program has a pair of quarterbacks that can win games.

"We have a ton of confidence in both guys and I'm excited to coach them," Johnson added.

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Cain is determined to do what he can. The soft-spoken Texan said the game has slowed down for him with experience. He's recognizing blitzes better and knows the plays and personnel well.

It's shown in camp as the Utes prepare for their Sept. 2 season opener against Pittsburgh.

"I think things have gone pretty well," Cain said.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com