TEMPE, Ariz. — Backup quarterback Jason Shelley, a redshirt freshman, is poised to make his first collegiate start next weekend when Utah faces Oregon at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Starter Tyler Huntley is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the season after reportedly breaking his left collarbone in Saturday’s 38-20 loss at Arizona State.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the situation will be known definitively on Sunday, but he noted that it looks like Shelley will be the starting quarterback moving forward — at least that’s the early indication.
As the only other quarterback in the program, Whittingham said that sophomore Drew Lisk will move up to the backup spot behind Shelley. Senior linebacker Chase Hansen or sophomore receiver Britain Covey will then be put in an emergency role.
“Both those guys have quarterback experience in high school and obviously it would be a limited package,” Whittingham said. “But if we get to two more guys then, yes, you’re looking at Brit or Chase, and we’ll make that determination as coaches on Sunday.”
Whittingham added that it means Shelley is the quarterback and he needs to rise up and make plays. It’s next man up, he explained, and no one in the country, conference, or program feels sorry for the Utes.
“We just move forward, and J’s got to take command and get it done for us,” said Whittingham, who expressed confidence in Shelley.
Despite playing in just four games this season, the Texan is up for the challenge.
“I was confident this game. So I’m always confident,” he said. “So I’ll be ready next game.”
Prior to completing 4 of 11 passes for 59 yards (and throwing an interception) against ASU, Shelley was 2 of 3 for 40 yards in limited action versus Weber State, Arizona and UCLA.
“It just forced me to grow up pretty fast. I was thrown into the fire pretty quick,” he said of stepping in for Huntley at Sun Devil Stadium. “I had to step up, and we just didn’t make enough plays when I came in there.”
MORE TARGETING: Utah lost starting free safety Philip Afi’a to a targeting call on the game’s opening possession. He joins safety Marquise Blair (twice) and defensive tackle Leki Fotu in being flagged for such penalties this season. Blair, in fact, had to sit out the first half Saturday after drawing an ejection for targeting in the second half of Utah’s 41-10 win at UCLA on Oct. 26.
In 2017, the Utes lost safety Corrion Ballard and linebacker Donovan Thompson to targeting calls in a 30-10 loss to Arizona State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.13 comments on this story
ON HAND: Scouts from the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders were credentialed for the game. So, too, were representatives from the Fiesta Bowl and Senior Bowl. The CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and AFL’s Arizona Rattlers also had scouts in attendance.
EXTRA POINTS: Ballard and linebacker Cody Barton led the Utes with 12 tackles apiece … Senior offensive lineman Lo Falemaka saw some action and missing the past four games with an unspecified injury. … Senior Matt Gay made two field goals and has now connected on 12 straight kicks overall. … Sophomore Samson Nacua was Utah’s leading receiver with four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. … The attendance was 46,445.