Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Quarter backs Brian Johnson, right, and Corbin Louks talk during a Utah football practice.

Corbin Louks isn't just biding his time as Utah's backup quarterback. He's too busy.

"If you're the No. 2 guy, you've always got to be ready. You've always got to be prepared," Louks said. "You're one play away. You've got to prepare for each and every game like you're going to get in."

With starting quarterback Brian Johnson having battled knee and shoulder problems the past couple of years, Louks is well aware how quickly his role could change.

As a freshman, he played behind Johnson and Tommy Grady — running a specific offensive package similar to what former Ute star Eric Weddle operated. Louks wound up as the team's third-leading rusher in 2007, racking up 162 yards on 33 carries.

Now that Grady is out of the picture, Louks has moved up the depth chart and his responsibilities have increased. If something happens to Johnson this time around, he is slated to take over.

"He did a great job in his role last year," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "If he's thrust into the position of being the guy, we'd have to see how he responds. My guess is he'd respond very well."

Louks, he added, is much further along than a year ago.

"You never know how a guy is going to perform when the bullets are live," Whittingham said. "You get him in a football game and everybody responds a little differently. Some guys make that transition very well."

Since arriving at Utah, Louks has added 25 pounds and maintained his quickness. The 6-foot, 195-pounder from Danville, Calif., is the third-fastest player on the team. He's got 4.42 speed in the 40 and lot's of determination.

"I'm going to do my best to push the No. 1 guy. I'll make him better, and it'll make the team better. I'm going to prepare each and every week like I may get a shot," Louks said. "So I'm just going to do my best to push Brian and he'll push the team. It'll have a wrinkle effect and just make the team better."

After being pulled out of a planned redshirt year in the third game last season, Louks went on to appear in 10 contests. The bulk of his work came on the ground.

Louks threw just eight passes in his first season of college ball, completing five for 41 yards and two touchdowns.

"He's got a strong arm. We're not trying to hide his arm or trying to conceal something," Whittingham said. "It's just last year as a true freshman his role was to come in and primarily be the quarterback run guy, which he did effectively. It wasn't a case that he can't throw."

At San Ramon Valley High School, Louks earned MVP honors after throwing for 2,489 yards and 28 touchdowns.

"I'm confident in my throwing ability. I'm confident in my receivers and I'm confident in my line. It takes all of us to complete the pass — not just the quarterback," Louks said. "Even though I ran the ball a lot last year, I still feel like I can throw the ball well."

It's part of the job, he noted.

Louks doesn't dwell on the past or worry about the future. He's firmly entrenched on the present, refusing to even speculate on 2008 and his possible move to the starting job.

"Next year is next year. This year is this year," Louks said.

"I'm focused right now on what I've got to do this year to help the team out in any way I can, push Brian and have him lead the team — help out wherever the team needs me. When next year comes, next year will come."


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com