Utah Utes football: Wynn, Whittingham agree QB needs more confidence
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Probably the most talked-about subject coming out of Utah's opening football game has been quarterback Jordan Wynn's passing — or lack thereof — against Montana State.
Everyone has been asking questions. Is Wynn really 100 percent after the December surgery to mend his right shoulder? Are his problems more psychological than physical? Are the Utes trying to cover up a more serious problem with Wynn's shoulder?
Wynn and coach Kyle Whittingham had some answers at Tuesday's press conference, the first time either has spoken publicly since last Thursday's game.
First, both the coach and quarterback said Wynn wasn't all that bad last week. After all, he did complete 15 of 23 passes and throw for two touchdowns.
"He didn't play poorly on Thursday night," said Whittingham. "He just didn't do the things we need him to do."
"I didn't play a bad game," added Wynn. "But I didn't play a great game. It was just OK."
But neither tried to downplay the fact that Wynn only threw for 101 yards and wasn't throwing the ball with much velocity and seemed tentative at times.
Whittingham believes it's mostly a matter of confidence.
"Jordan has got to gain confidence in his arm. It's not a physical thing, it's a mental thing," he said. "Anybody that's had surgery, whether it's knee or shoulder, there's a period of time where you've got to figure out, 'Hey, it's better, I can do this, I can cut loose and throw the football the way I want to without worrying if there's going to be some pain.' I think he's battling through that, psychologically."
Wynn agrees with his coach.
"It's not too surprising, there's always something that goes on when you have surgery," he said. "You're a little different and you just have to get over it. That's just something I have to forget about. It's all mental."
The Utes began Thursday's game with three straight passes. However, Wynn missed on two of them and the other went for only four yards. Most of his 15 completions were short passes and he rarely went downfield the rest of the game.
In the press conference following the game, Whittingham called the Ute passing game "abysmal," but Wynn didn't take offense.
"You've got to deal with it," he said. "No one's harder on myself than I am. To hear that is not shocking. I don't take it personal by any means. I've got to go out and play better and throw the ball better."
This week, Wynn says he planning to "cut loose" and "let it rip" after playing more carefully last week.
"I was trying to take care of the football," he said. "All those passes (Thursday) were finesse passes, just getting it there. But that's not really my game. I've just got to cut loose."
As for the idea that the Utes are covering up any physical problems with their quarterback, Whittingham is adamant.
"We're not sitting here trying to hide or mask some injury," he said. "His shoulder is completely healthy from a medical standpoint, so it's just a matter of getting over that hump mentally."
Two years ago as a freshman, Wynn threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns against a Pac-12 team in the Poinsettia Bowl when the Utes defeated Cal 37-27. He'll have another chance at a Pac-12 school this week at the L.A. Coliseum against USC.
"I have to throw the ball harder and farther, just let it loose," he said. "That's my game. I kind of picture myself as a gunslinger, to just let it rip. We've got to be able to do that, whether it's me throwing deep or the receiver taking something short and breaking it."
Whittingham said Wynn is the Utes' quarterback, but he can't guarantee when Wynn might be back to his old self.
"Whether it takes, one week, two weeks, half a season, I can't tell you," he said. "But (Jordan) is our guy."
Utah (1-0) at USC (1-0)
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