PULLMAN, Wash. — No. 14 Utah escaped Martin Stadium with a 21-17 victory over Washington State Thursday night, and the Utes offense was playing with backups at key positions.

“A gutsy performance by our guys. We found a way to win, which is obviously the bottom line. We showed a lot of toughness and resiliency. … (WSU is) a good football team. They beat Wisconsin. Way back when, I understand that, but still it was a good victory at Wisconsin. — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham

“We had guys step up and perform when they needed to,” said coach Kyle Whittingham.

Second-string quarterback Bryson Barnes started in place of injured starter Cam Rising. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown and rushed eight times for 51 yards.

True freshman Jaylon Glover and Ja’Quinden Jackson — who was switched from quarterback to running back a few weeks ago — combined for 30 carries, 119 yards and two touchdowns as Tavion Thomas was sidelined. 

Meanwhile, tight end Dalton Kincaid, who caught seven passes for 56 yards, was injured on a third-quarter touchdown. 

“We’re the walking wounded on offense right now but nobody cares,” Whittingham said. “That’s why you recruit and build depth in your 85-man roster so you can weather the storm when things like this happen.”

The good news for the Utes (6-2, 4-1) is they have a couple of extra days to get healthier before next Saturday’s home game against Arizona. 

“We’re fortunate that we have a couple extra days off again to hopefully heal up and get some of these guys back,” Whittingham said. “We’ll see what happens.”

It’s unknown how long Rising will be out and if he will be available to play against the Wildcats. 

Rising informed Whittingham 30 minutes before kickoff, the coach said, that he would not be able to play. Rising injured his leg during Utah’s 43-42 victory over USC on Oct. 15. In that game, he threw for a career-high 415 yards and was responsible for five touchdowns.

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For Thursday’s game, with Rising standing on the sideline, true freshman Nate Johnson was Barnes’ backup. Rising was not considered available even in an emergency role, according to Whittingham. 

Jackson was the No. 3 quarterback Thursday. 

“Ja’Quinden Jackson can fill in and still has enough retention from when he was played quarterback,” Whittingham said. 

Would Whittingham have been comfortable playing Jackson against WSU if it had been necessary?

“Not comfortable,” the coach said, “but it would have been more of an option than putting Cam in tonight.”

Defensively, safety R.J. Hubert was ejected for targeting early in the fourth quarter. He is scheduled to be sidelined for the first half against Arizona, unless the Utes decide to appeal the call. 

Overall, Whittingham was happy with the way his team responded despite being shorthanded. 

“A gutsy performance by our guys. We found a way to win, which is obviously the bottom line,” he said. “We showed a lot of toughness and resiliency. … (WSU is) a good football team. They beat Wisconsin. Way back when, I understand that, but still it was a good victory at Wisconsin. They’ve lost to some really good Pac-12 teams. By no means was that opponent inferior, in my opinion.”

Linebacker Karene Reid explained that Thursday’s hard-fought win says a lot about this team. 

“It just shows that we have a next-man-up mentality. We’re going to face more adversity,” he said. “There’s going to be more injuries down the road. It says a lot about the character of this team, that we’re in it for the team.”

Utah running back Ja’Quinden Jackson carries the ball during game against Washington State, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Pullman, Wash. Jackson, a former QB, would have been the Utes emergency quarterback if needed on Thursday night. | Young Kwak, Associated Press