Kyle Whittingham explains quarterback rotation in Utah's win over Baylor
Kyle Whittingham told reporters following Utah’2 20-13 win over Baylor that the coaching staff was looking to ride the “hot hand” at quarterback.
Without Cam Rising, sidelined for a second straight week as he makes his way back from offseason ACL surgery, Utah started Bryson Barnes at quarterback against the Bears. For three quarters, it did not work. Barnes finished the day 6-for-19 passing for 71 yards and an interception.
“We’ve just got to have more out of the throw game than that,” Whittingham said, per KSL’s Josh Furlong.
With 10:01 on the clock and Utah trailing 13-6, the offense took over at its own 12-yard line. Nate Johnson led the group out, having thrown just two passes to that point in the game.
Utah opened with runs of 1, 7, and 2 yards. Johnson converted the third-and-short with his legs, but was then sacked on the next play to set Utah behind the chains.
His first pass went 17 yards to Mikey Matthews on second-and-15.
Then Jaylon Glover hit for 9 yards. Johnson hit for 9 more after a holding call set the Utes back. After a third-and-2 run from Glover picked up 7, Johnson hit three straight passes. First to Money Parks for 13, then to Matthews over the middle for 18, and then back to Matthews for 9.
Johnson paid off the drive on a third-and-goal from the 7 with a quarterback keeper.
Fifteen plays, 88 yards, 8:02 off the clock. Utah finally had life.
Frustrated Utah fans hoped to see the move earlier in the game. Barnes struggled as a passer. When Johnson took over and drove the team for a score, it put an even bigger question mark over next week’s game against Weber State.
If Rising still isn’t ready to go, will the staff go back to Barnes? Or does it use the game to get Johnson rolling in the event Rising is unavailable the following week against UCLA?
“We’ve got confidence in Nate, and it’s just a situation where who gives you the best chance to win and what role can each of them play in the situation we’re in right now,” Whittingham said after the game, per Furlong. “But Nate took a big step forward, and he’s going to be a better quarterback because of this performance. We’re excited about his future here.”
Whittingham said Barnes and Johnson have held down the fort while Rising has been on the shelf. Utah has beaten Florida and Baylor to open the year. Rising’s return continues to loom.
“We’re gonna get Cam back at some point,” Whittingham said, per Furlong. “Hopefully this week, but I’ve been crossing my fingers for a couple of weeks now.”