Utah Utes football: Utes know it is team effort to get back on track
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday's game against San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium may be just what the doctor ordered for Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn.
The sophomore, who is from nearby Oceanside, Calif., is a perfect 3-0 at the facility — winning twice in high school, including the CIF San Diego Section Finals in 2008, and once in college while earning Poinsettia Bowl Offensive Player of the Game honors.
"He's had an excellent career in that stadium," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "I believe he's undefeated in that stadium and he feels very comfortable there."
Getting Wynn and his teammates back on track after back-to-back losses to TCU and Notre Dame, he added, needs to happen quickly. Utah's offense has scored just one touchdown over the past nine quarters. The last eight quarters came in the consecutive setbacks that marred an 8-0 start to the season.
Returning home has brightened Wynn's outlook as he deals with consecutive losses for the first time in his career.
"It'll definitely be nice. San Diego State is a good team. We've got to play well," Wynn said. "I've had some good times back at Qualcomm and hopefully Saturday is one of those."
Utah's recent shortcomings on offense followed a stretch where the Utes ranked among the nation's elite. They averaged 44 points per outing over the first eight games.
Whittingham isn't blaming Wynn for the woes, adding that he's hopeful that it's never been implied or insinuated.
"It's a combination of things. The QB is just under the spotlight. It's inherent with the position and that will never change," Whittingham said. "Most of the time they get far too much credit and far too much criticism, depending on the situation."
While acknowledging that Wynn was still the starter at this moment and time, Whittingham noted that it's still a competitive situation. Senior Terrance Cain, who is 9-1 in his career as a starter, is the other viable option at quarterback, and he's only seen limited action in recent weeks.
"Nothing is set in stone. Everything is subject to performance and production," he explained. "That goes across the board. There's nobody that is immune from that."
Wynn understands how it works.
"The bottom line I've got to go perform," he said. "That's the name of the game and that's just what I've got to do."
Whittingham appreciates Wynn's approach.
"Anybody that's got a lot of pride and competitiveness to them puts a lot on their shoulders," he said.
Quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson also believes that Wynn's mindset is right. He said Wynn just needs to understand that things don't always go right for a young guy in a program with extremely high expectations.
"The key for Jordan is to understand that right now the pressure is on and everyone is watching to see how you respond," Johnson said. "And I'm confident that he'll respond the right way."
Wynn's focus is on the present, not the past.
"Right now it's all on San Diego State," he said. "That's where it's got to be. I've just got to keep moving on."
The Utes need a win, Wynn added, and they need it badly.
As such, center Zane Taylor and his teammates are determined not to dwell on the negative. They just want to get the job done.
And it'll take more than one guy to do it.
Taylor acknowledged that Wynn is under a lot of pressure, but hopes the young quarterback knows that the recent lack of explosiveness and effectiveness isn't attributed directly to him.
"It's a team effort. Everyone on the offense has something they need to work on. It's not one person that's not making things go," Taylor said. "I know there's plenty of things that I can do, personally. There's plenty of things the whole line can do. Every position has work to do.
"We are nowhere near where we need to be to accomplish the remaining goals we have this season."
Taylor has reminded Wynn to keep his head up during the adversity.
"By no means is anyone on this team thinking that our lack of effectiveness on offense is his doing. We let him know that 100 percent," Taylor said. "We're all behind him. We all have just as much to work on as anyone else. I think he realizes that."
Utes on the air
No. 23 Utah (8-2, 5-1 MWC) at San Diego State (7-3, 4-2)
Saturday, 8 p.m. (MT)
TV: The mtn. Radio: 700 AM
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