It's judgment day for University of Utah quarterbacks Corbin Louks, Terrance Cain and Jordan Wynn.
Today's scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium will likely be the final audition for one of them in their quest to become the Utes' next starter.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham has repeatedly said that the field of candidates will be reduced to two after the 100-snap scrimmage. With the Sept. 3 season-opener against Utah State drawing near, reps are becoming an issue — and there just isn't enough for three.
"We don't get four preseason games to decide. We've got to make a decision. So that's what we are going to do," said offensive coordinator Dave Schramm. "I wouldn't say it's necessarily D-Day — it's a little strong — but it's important. It's definitely important."
Whittingham agrees it'll carries a lot of weight, but downplayed its overall significance.
"We don't like that drama," he said. "It's not that dramatic."
The scrimmage is just one variable in the competition.
"Everything gets evaluated. Every single thing they do," Schramm explained. "It's not so much the scrimmage. It's the timetable. The clock isn't going to stop because we need to decide on a quarterback."
The players have been put in every situation possible through spring ball and early on in fall camp. Their job is to get the ball to the playmakers while pursuing a goal to improve each day.
"We're all trying to help out the team. It's not about us," Wynn said. "So we're all just trying to get better as a group, first."
Individually, Whittingham said the primary responsibility of the quarterback position is to manage the offense.
It's a job all three are eager to fill, though each insists the competition has remained friendly.
"We help each other out. We all want to succeed," Louks said. "It's not very stressful. You've just got to come in and worry about yourself, worry about your offense and worry about your team."
Getting better every day is the common theme. It's an approach the quarterbacks are taking into the scrimmage.
"I just see it as another practice to get better and to improve," Louks said. "No pressure."
Cain has similar thoughts.
"The scrimmage is big because it's practice. You're trying to get better," he said. "That's all I'm looking for is another day trying to get better."
Wynn, however, admits the scrimmage is a big deal and may indeed be judgment day.
"It really is, but I try not to look at it like that. I try to forget about it, go and do what I do and just complete passes," he said. "If I'm in the top two, I'm in the top two. If not, I'm pretty sure the plan is to redshirt. So I'll just help the team out however I can."
Wynn, a true freshman competing against two juniors, is happy with how he is playing in camp.
"I feel I've done pretty well compared to spring," he said. "I feel like I've pretty much got all of the offense down."
Cain, the other candidate new to the program, also considers himself improving.
"But it can always be better," he said.
Such is the life of a quarterback. Louks, who was Brian Johnson's back-up last season, notes that nobody is perfect. The key to success, he said, is to keep improving and keep making strides. It's all about getting ready for that first game — and he plans on taking the first snap.
"I feel it's my job to lose still," Louks said. "I've just got to keep going at it and, like I've said, improve each day."
CLOSED SCRIMMAGE: Today's scrimmage, which is slated to begin at 9 a.m., is closed to the public. It'll also be closed to the media until 10:15 a.m.
The quarterback battle is part of the reason for Whittingham's decision to limit access.
"The bottom line is I've got to do what I think is best for the team, and I think the less distractions the better at this point and time," he said. "So I just thought it was the thing to do for the bulk of the scrimmage."
It's also a "preemptive strike," Whittingham added, to limit information — particularly details on formations and such — to opposing programs.
"There are no secrets. It's here to stay," he said of the information superhighway. "It's not going to get any better. So we live with it, try to manage it as best as we can and just move forward."