Utah football: Quarterback Adam Schulz makes first career start in Travis Wilson's absence
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
EUGENE, Ore. — While Travis Wilson is sidelined with an undisclosed head injury, the Utah Utes are moving ahead with the mindset that Adam Schulz is now their starting quarterback. Wilson’s backup made his first career start in Saturday’s 44-21 loss to sixth-ranked Oregon.
“Absolutely. That’s the mentality we’re taking right now,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who hopes to clear the picture up — and possibly have it resolved — by Monday.
Wilson, who had started 16 consecutive games for Utah, did not make the trip to Oregon because of what Whittingham described only as a “head injury.” Part of it, he explained, was something that happened in last week’s loss to Arizona State.
Whittingham told reporters at his postgame press conference that he was going to wait until Monday to comment further, hoping to have additional information on the situation by then.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with him,” Whittingham said. “And it’s something that all that matters to us right now is his health. Whether or not he plays is not a factor — it’s Travis and his health overall.”
When asked why Wilson didn’t even make the trip to be on the sidelines with the team, Whittingham said it wasn’t explored because “it’s a tough situation” for Wilson.
Schulz, meanwhile, drew praise for making his first career start in a tough environment at Autzen Stadium against a powerhouse team like Oregon.
“Overall I was proud of the way he came in and competed,” said Whittingham, who called it a courageous effort.
Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson said he needs to watch the film before evaluating Schulz’s performance.
“Obviously 21 points is not enough to beat these guys,” Johnson explained. “So we’ll watch it and see.”
As for Wilson, Johnson referred all questions to Whittingham.
Schulz, whose previous experience was limited to four games (three this season), said he was excited to make his first career start and has been looking for an opportunity since arriving at Utah as a walk-on from Muskego (Wis.) High School in 2011.
“There’s no bigger stage really,” Schulz said of facing the Ducks in Eugene.
The sophomore, who added that he was ready to go, learned he would be starting in place of Wilson midweek. After completing 13 of 30 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown (rushing for another score) with an interception, Schulz said his performance was “obviously, not good enough.”
PAYING TRIBUTE: Fox Sports 1 college football analyst James Bates, who worked the game Saturday, got emotional when talking about his former broadcast partner Todd Christensen. The former BYU and NFL star passed away Wednesday at the age of 57. His viewing was Friday and his funeral was Saturday in Alpine.
Bates noted that it was “very ironic” to be in Christensen’s hometown of Eugene covering a team the duo used to broadcast games for on the MountainWest Sports Network.
Although it was tough for Bates not to be in Utah to give Christensen’s family his love and a hug, he found another way to pay tribute to his friend.
“The fact that I am in Eugene, I found his address from his childhood home and so I went by last night and said a little prayer for him and went to his high school, which was right across the street there and it was special,” said Bates, who added that Christensen was a great spirit and his own guy. “I feel very blessed to have been his friend for so long and to have worked with him for so long and I’ll never forget him.”
TRUE BLUE: Ex-BYU and NFL standout Brady Poppinga was also on the FOX Sports 1 broadcast team. Poppinga said the only weird thing about covering the Utes was the interaction he had with some fans that recognized him outside the stadium. They wanted him to make the “U” hand sign.
“I couldn’t do it and then they wanted me to take a photo with them in their Utah gear and I couldn’t do it. I had to bring in some Oregon guys to sort of balance out the equation,” Poppinga said. “In that case it was weird. But when you’re just talking football X’s and O’s, I know them as good as anybody.”
EXTRA POINTS: The 44 points allowed were the most scored on Utah since TCU scored 47 on the Utes in 2010. ... Linebacker Jared Norris and running back Kelvin York did not make the trip because of undisclosed injuries. ... The attendance was 56,481 — the 95th consecutive sellout at Autzen Stadium. ... Scouts from the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars were credentialed for the game.
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