Michael Brandy, Deseret News
All this talk for the past month — actually eight months — about who will be Utah's starting quarterback may have been much ado about nothing.
Oh, it's interesting to fans and media to debate who should be the Ute quarterback to replace Brian Johnson.
The fact is, whoever starts the season won't necessarily be the guy who finishes the season or even plays most of the season.
Looking back at the Ute quarterback situation over the past two decades, only seven times has one quarterback started every game of the season.
The other 13 seasons, more than one quarterback has played significant minutes, either because of injuries or ineffectiveness of the other guy(s).
Longtime Ute fans will remember, or choose to forget, 1990 when Jason Woods and Mike Richmond went back and forth on almost a weekly basis. Or how about the 1997-2000 period when Darnell Arceneaux was in and out of the lineup because of injuries and shared duties with Jonathan Crosswhite and T.D. Croshaw? Even in 2006, the Utes had a three-quarterback preseason fight among Brian Johnson, Brett Ratliff and Tommy Grady.
This season, the Utes opened camp with three quarterback candidates but whittled a competitive battle to two in mid-August, spurring last year's backup, Corbin Louks, to transfer to another school.
Junior-college transfer Terrance Cain and true freshman Jordan Wynn have been competing for the last two weeks without either being named the starter yet. Although Cain has appeared to be getting more reps, the Utes won't reveal their starter until he runs out on the field for the first offensive series Thursday evening.
Both head coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm expect both Cain and Wynn will see action this year, though they won't be platooned.
"It's tough to get through a season with just one quarterback in this day and age," said Whittingham. "We were very fortunate last year. It's probably going to be two at some point this year."
"That's just college football," added Schramm. "We've got two excellent guys and need to make sure they're ready when their time is called."
In fact, if things go right (a big lead) or wrong (an early deficit), the two Ute quarterbacks may get significant minutes Thursday night against Utah State or the following week against San Jose State.
Even though the Ute coaches have tried to put their QBs in gamelike situations during the past month, they admit that certain players are better in real-game situations than others, which may mean a change during or after Thursday's game.
"That's very much the case," said Whittingham. "Some guys rise up and perform well in game situations, and some guys don't handle it as well."
However, the Utes are hoping they've picked the right guy and won't be shuffling quarterbacks back and forth as has been done in past years.
"You've got to do what gives you the best chance to win," said Schramm. "You've got to be smart. If a guy's in the backup role, you can't ask him to do stuff in games he hasn't practiced. Last year we had a guy who had played a lot, and this year unfortunately we don't."
If the unthinkable happens and both Cain and Wynn are injured or ineffective, Schramm said the Utes will turn to Chad Manis, who was recruited as a quarterback but was switched to linebacker this year. The Utes would prefer to redshirt Griff Robles, who returned from an LDS mission in the spring.
Utes/Aggies on the air
Utah State at No. 19 Utah
Thursday, 7 p.m.
At Rice-Eccles Stadium
TV: The mtn. Radio: 700 AM, 610 AM, 1320 AM
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