What is going on in the University of Utah football program, where the injury bug has spread like the flu? Who knew that head, shoulder, knee and toe injuries were contagious? Maybe the Utes should wear a mask.
After three games, the MVP is clear: it is Trevor Jameson, the team’s head coach. Talk about a guy who has a tough job.
“We have to be healthy. We have 15 or 16 guys who can really help us win who are not available. We need to start getting them back. — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham
Injuries are about the only thing talked about in UTE circles. Utah message boards were lit up with talk of injuries. This is the subject of the day.
Let’s start from the top.
Quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe — two of the best players on the team – have yet to downplay it, both recovering from knee injuries from last year. Brandon Rosethe camp’s No. 2 quarterback, was supposed to replace Rising, but He was injured during a preseason scrimmage and has yet to play this season. Dallen Bentley was signed in the offseason by Snow College as perhaps someone who could replace Kuithe, and, you guessed it, he is injured and has yet to play in a game.
Neither did center Johnny Maea, defensive tackle Simote Pepa and defensive end Connor O’Toole. Running back Micah Bernard played in the first game and is out for the season.
Several other key players missed at least one game – defensive tackle Junior Tafuna, linebacker Karene Reid, cornerback JaTravis Broughton, wide receiver Mycah Pittman, running back Chris Curry, No. 1 receiver Devaughn Vele and kicker Cole Becker.
You know you’re in real trouble when even the kicker is injured.
After last week’s win over Weber State, head coach Kyle Whittingham said: “I have been coaching for 40 years. I’ve never seen anything like this in this department.
The injury service.
“We need to be healthy,” Whittingham says. “We have 15 or 16 guys who can really help us win who are not available. We need to start getting them back.
But there’s only so much a coach can do. He can force players to run extra laps, lift weights, play over and over again, but he cannot order bones and ligaments to heal. After Tuesday’s practice, Whittingham said, “We’re hoping to have three or four back this week.” It would be ideal if we can get it. … It seems optimistic for three or four, maybe five of them.”
Ready or not, the Utes will begin play in the Pac-12 and, wouldn’t you know it, just as the Pac-12 is dying from a terminal case of realignment, the league has resurrected itself (too late ), putting eight teams in the AP Top 25, all 3-0. Utah’s quest for a third straight Pac-12 title appears to be its toughest challenge yet.
The Utes open with a home game against No. 22 UCLA on Saturday. UCLA coach Chip Kelly dismissed any talk of Utah’s injuries, saying the Utes are talented enough that there won’t be much of a drop-off in performance. He may be right, but how long can the Utes hold off increasingly difficult opponents until help arrives from the practice room? And with nine regular season games left, what are the chances there won’t be more injuries to come?
The bad news for the competition is that the Utes won their first three games and rose to 10th/11th in the national polls with one arm tied behind their back. This was when they were most vulnerable and Florida, Baylor and Weber State couldn’t take advantage, even against Utah’s No. 3 and No. 4 quarterbacks.
Rising, the all-conference quarterback, was considered indispensable; the Utes survived thanks to his reinforcements — Bryson Barnesa junior from the recruiting hotbed of Miford (population 1,500), who had thrown just 59 passes in three seasons before the opener against Florida — and Nate Johnsona redshirt freshman who had only thrown five varsity passes.
And yet, the Utes won.
Kuithe, an NFL prospect and all-conference tight end, would team up with Devaughn Vele to form a strong receiving duo; instead, the Utes relied on a veteran receiver Silver parks and true freshman Mike Matthews.
Bernard, part of Utah’s 1-2 running back duo, only lasted seven rushed attempts.
The Utes simply hang on the edge of a cliff by their fingernails, waiting for help to arrive. They rank 85th nationally in points per game – but ninth in defense.
On the bright side, injuries create problems for Utah’s opponents. According to the Los Angeles Times, Kelly is preparing his team for Utah’s three potential starting quarterbacks – Rising, Johnson and Barnes. They’re all distinctly different players, which complicates things for defenses, meaning Whittingham will likely keep his starting QB a secret until he trots onto the field for the Utes’ first drive of the game.
As one fan wrote about all the injuries on UteHub: “What is going on? »