Kyle Whittingham said after Monday’s Rose Bowl loss to Penn State that the injury quarterback Cameron Rising suffered initially appears to be a bad one.

In the third quarter of the game, Rising took a heavy hit on a third-and-7 run, stayed down, and then was helped off the field. He went to the team’s medical tent on the sideline and then eventually back to the locker room. When he emerged, he was in street clothes.

“The injury to Cam is a leg injury. It doesn’t look good, I’ll tell you that,” Whittingham said. “It looks like it could be something that takes a while to recover from, so that’s not a positive right now.”

Utah went with Bryson Barnes the rest of the way. Barnes was picked off on his fifth snap, and Utah failed to cross the Penn State 40 on each of the next four possessions as the Nittany Lions pulled away.

According to KSL’s Josh Furlong, Whittingham told reporters after the game that the coaching staff had a package for freshman quarterback Nate Johnson if they wanted to get to it, but they felt Barnes was the better option for them against Penn State.

Rising finished the game 8-for-21 passing for 95 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He added 47 rushing yards. Barnes completed 10 of his 19 passes for 121 yards in relief. He threw a touchdown, but he also tossed an interception.

In the second half, the two quarterbacks went a combined 11-for-25 on their pass attempts as the Penn State pass rush pinned its ears back and brought consistent pressure.

For Rising, it’s unclear what exactly the injury is he sustained, but he spent the final months of the season playing through a knee injury that forced him to miss the Washington State game. If the injury is serious enough, it could be a major factor in whether Rising returns in 2023 to use his final season of eligibility.

“It breaks my heart. He’s such a warrior, such a fierce competitor,” Whittingham said. “He’ll be back from injury. Hopefully he is back with us. That’s to be determined.”