Utah Utes football: Utes have 'full faith' Jon Hays can lead team
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Injured Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn opted not to speak with the media after Tuesday morning's practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Others, however, spoke for him a day after Wynn learned he'll need surgery on his non-throwing shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.
"He's obviously disappointed," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "But he knows its part of the deal."
The positive thing, Whittingham noted, is that Wynn has been through shoulder surgery before and knows exactly what to expect. Although rehab from a major injury is a grind, he's confident the junior has the right attitude and will get through it.
Whittingham said Wynn received a little bit of a boost when told he would get a medical redshirt year and still have two seasons left to play.
Quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, who overcame some serious injuries in his career, knows exactly what Wynn is going through. It's tough, he said, but Utah has a great medical staff.
"We put our full faith and trust in those guys to get him back to us and hopefully get him back next year," Johnson said.
Wynn won't be alone in his recovery.
"We'll get through this together, our entire position group. He'll always have our support, my support especially and we're going to grind him until he gets healthy," Johnson explained. "He's a self-motivated guy, so he wants to go out there and be back as soon as possible. So we won't have an issue with him in his rehab."
In the meantime, Johnson said the business of finding ways to fight on and keep getting better will continue with former backup Jon Hays taking the snaps.
"It doesn't change the way we go about our day-to-day operation," Johnson said. "We still practice the exact same and we still have the same structure in everything that we do. It's just plugging a new guy in there."
Hays, who filled in for Wynn in the second half of the Washington game and started last week against Arizona State, is eager to take the top spot for the rest of the season.
"I'm excited," Hays said. "I've been waiting for this opportunity my whole life, so I just want to take advantage of it."
As the Utes prepare for Saturday's game at Pittsburgh, Hays is taking advantage of fall break and spending more time in the film room.
"It's all about preparation," he said. "What I put into it is what I'm going to get out of it."
"We've got a tough challenge this week, but Jon's up for it," he said. "We're up for it as a program and we'll be ready to go."
Monday's announcement that Wynn was out for the season wasn't unexpected. Whittingham told Hays last week that it was likely, although there was hope that a harness, perhaps, could stabilize Wynn's left shoulder.
It didn't prove to be the case.
"This is not news to him. It's something that we anticipated," Whittingham said of his discussion with Hays. "We didn't want to jump the gun and make a definitive statement before the medical procedures took place. But it's his show now and he is the guy who is at the controls of the offense."
Hays will do so with some additional support.
"Jordan will be a coach not only during a game but in practice and in the meeting room," Whittingham said. "He's a guy that has complete command and complete grasp of the offense, and having his presence around is like having a coach and another set of eyes for us."
Utes on the air
Utah (2-3) at Pittsburgh (3-3)
Saturday, 10 a.m. (MT)
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
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