SALT LAKE CITY — Starting quarterback Travis Wilson has returned from Utah’s bye week with a healthy hand and mindset.
“It’s good. It’s 100 percent now,” Wilson said as the Utes prepare for Saturday’s game against 23rd-ranked Arizona State at Rice-Eccles Stadium. “So I’m really excited for this week of practice, and I know I’ll have a good week.”
Wilson’s banged up throwing hand, an injury that included a sprained index finger, has healed to the point where the sophomore is no longer wearing a protective glove.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the bye week came at a good time for Wilson and other Utes in need of a little time to get healthy again.
“That should be behind us,” he said. “We’re hoping that Travis is now 100 percent free from the effects of that injury.”
Whittingham added that true freshman Conner Manning will continue to redshirt and that backup quarterback Adam Schulz will get just about the entire dose of reps with the second unit in practice.
Wilson, meanwhile, continues to gear up as the starter. As part of his preparation, he returned home to San Clemente, Calif., over the bye weekend.
“It was good. I got to clear my head a little bit,” Wilson said. “I got to spend time with my family. So I think it was really important for me to kind of go home and be with them.”
The trip has rejuvenated Wilson.
“I’m definitely ready to go. I’m really excited for this week,” he said. “It’s going to be a big game but I think we’ll be ready to go by Saturday.”
NOT LOOKING GOOD: It’s been a while since Utah has started a tight end. The Utes haven’t done so since Jake Murphy broke his wrist against UCLA on Oct. 3. Whittingham said senior Westlee Tonga, a co-starter who hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury against BYU on Sept. 21, will likely miss a fifth straight game.
Although Whittingham declined to say there was no chance Tonga would play Saturday, he acknowledged it didn’t look good.
“Based on the report I got this morning, I don’t think he’ll be available,” Whittingham said.
IN MEMORY: Whittingham opened his weekly press conference by saying how deeply saddened the program is for the tragic death of the father of former Utes Matt and Shawn Asiata. Whittingham attended the funeral earlier in the day.
“Our thoughts and prayers got out to Matt and Shawn and the whole Asiata family,” Whittingham said. “It was just a real horrible thing. So we want to make sure we acknowledge that.”
Pita Asiata, a tour bus driver, was killed in an Oct. 28.
EXTRA POINTS: Utah kicker Andy Phillips is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award . . . Kickoff time for the Utes’ Nov. 16 game at Oregon may not be known until next Monday. Options include (all times MST) 1:30 p.m., if picked up by Fox; 2 p.m., if picked up by Fox Sports 1; or 6 p.m., if picked up by ABC . . . ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach predicts the Utes (as a replacement for Army) will face San Jose State in the Poinsettia Bowl . . . Whittingham announced the team will wear different drum-and-feather decals on their helmets Saturday as part to honor U.S. military personnel and veterans as part of a “Salute America” celebration . . . Tickets are still available for the game. Call 801-581-UTIX for more information.
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