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Elliott hopes for return by Oct. 3

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Utah QB Brett Elliott, here on the turf after a hit at Texas A\\\\&M, had surgery on his broken wrist.

Utah QB Brett Elliott, here on the turf after a hit at Texas A\\\\&M, had surgery on his broken wrist.

David J. Phillip, Associated Press

Utah quarterback Brett Elliott insists all is well.

Surgery on his fractured left wrist was successful. A plate was inserted to expedite healing, and he's hoping to be back in the lineup Oct. 3 when the Utes host Oregon.

"That's where I'm from and that's the game I'm shooting for," said Elliott, who is wearing an arm sling after the injury suffered in the closing seconds Saturday at Texas A&M.

In the meantime, the junior from Lake Oswego believes the Utes are in good hands. Though coach Urban Meyer has yet to name a replacement starter for Thursday's home game against California (5:45 p.m., ESPN), Elliott is convinced sophomore Alex Smith and senior Lance Rice can step in and get the job done.

"They'll do great. Alex is my boy and Lance is my boy. I love those guys," Elliott said. "I'll be there helping them. I think they'll do a great job tomorrow."

Just who will be taking the snaps against the Golden Bears is still undecided. Meyer has opted not to make an announcement until today's practice is complete. He's also hesitant to say whether both will see action in Utah's final tune-up before Mountain West Conference plays opens Sept. 27 at Colorado State.

"I anticipate we would (play both), " Meyer said. "But we haven't decided that yet."

Despite uncertainty at quarterback, the coach claims the Utes are ready to go. The 28-26 loss at Texas A&M hasn't sat well.

"The guys want to come and make amends," Meyer said. "We came up two yards short. We can't let that happen again."

Especially at home, with ESPN cameras rolling.

Noting Colorado State's success with Thursday night national television appearances, Meyer let athletic director Chris Hill know that it was something he'd like to see Utah pursue. A push was made and eventually finalized when it crossed the right desk.

"It's a great opportunity for Utah football," said Meyer, who is eager to showcase his program and its facilities to a large audience. "We made a decision back in December that we needed that to get our name out there for recruiting — get it out there for a lot of reasons."

At CSU, where Meyer worked as an assistant coach from 1990-95, the Rams are fulfilling three ideals he'd like Utah to emulate. They've won, they've won the right way, and they're on TV a lot.

"That's our intent," Meyer explained.

The first step, however, is a big one. California is a formidable opponent. Quarterback Reggie Robertson currently leads the Pac-10 with eight touchdown passes. The Golden Bears are just 1-2, though, with losses to Kansas State (42-28) and Colorado State (23-21) and a victory over Southern Mississippi (34-2).

Meyer is impressed with their speed and physical play up front.

"They may be more active than A&M," he continued. "So we'll have our hands full."

The feeling is reciprocal. Cal coach Jeff Tedford is expecting a battle regardless of Utah's quarterbacking situation.

"We're going to have to slow them down," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "They have a high-powered offense and their defense has always been good."

Both teams are coming off challenging contests just five days ago: the Utes at Texas A&M and the Bears at home against CSU.

"We're a little bit beat up, but Cal's in the same situation," Utah linebacker Spencer Toone said. "I'm 100-percent confident that we'll be ready to play and firing on all cylinders come game time on Thursday."

E-MAIL: dirk@desnews.com