‘Two extra days are very valuable’: Who will be available — and not — when Utah hosts Arizona?
During his weekly Monday morning news conference, coach Kyle Whittngham said there are no season-ending injuries to report
“Bryson Barnes did an exceptional job under the circumstances that he was thrust into. He didn’t take many reps during the week because Cam was taking them all. Given the preparation, the lack thereof, he responded well.” — Kyle Whittingham
During his weekly Monday morning news conference, coach Kyle Whittingham, who won’t address injuries unless they are of the season-ending variety, said there are no season-ending injuries to report.
It’s too early in the week to say whether or not Kincaid will play Saturday (5:30 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Network) against Arizona, Whittingham said.
If Kincaid can’t play, the coach said the staff will need to “tweak” the offensive game plan.
“I wouldn’t say drastically but the wide receivers become more prevalent in what you’re doing,” Whittingham said. “The guys that are available need to step up and pick up the slack. We’ll see how things develop.”
The Utes’ other pass-catching tight ends are Thomas Yassmin, Munir McClain and Taniela Pututau. Another tight end, Logan Kendall, is more of a blocking tight end.
Quarterback Cam Rising did not play against Washington State due to an injury. He informed the coaches about 30 minutes before kickoff that he wasn’t feeling physically ready to play.
Will Rising be ready to go against Arizona?
“We hope so,” Whittingham said. “We certainly hope so.”
Whittingham praised walk-on backup QB Bryson Barnes for his performance against the Cougars. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start. He also rushed eight times for 51 yards.
“Bryson Barnes did an exceptional job under the circumstances that he was thrust into,” Whittingham said. “He didn’t take many reps during the week because Cam was taking them all. Given the preparation, the lack thereof, he responded well. That shows what kind of study he is of the game plan to be ready in those circumstances. We’ll integrate him as necessary.
“Cam is our guy. There’s no doubt about that. There’s no quarterback controversy or anything. … Bryson, the times he’s been called upon, he’s answered the bell.”
Asked if Barnes would receive more first-team reps this week, Whittingham said, “Cam is much further ahead today than he was a week ago today. He’s on schedule to be the guy.”
Running back Tavion Thomas was also sidelined last week and didn’t make the trip to Pullman.
When asked about Thomas’ status, Whittingham didn’t offer much information.
“That’s all in-house. Every bit of it,” he said. “We’ll continue to take it day by day. We’ll see what happens. Nothing to divulge there.”
Running back Micah Bernard had three carries for one yard against Washington State.
“He got dinged up in the USC game pretty good,” Whittingham said, adding that he didn’t practice “until a day or two before the game.”
Starting free safety R.J. Hubert was whistled for a targeting call in the second half against WSU. Whittingham said the program appealed the ruling but “we didn’t get the appeal.”
So Hubert will sit out the first half against Arizona. Transfer Clayton Isbell is listed as Hubert’s backup at free safety.
A week ago, Whittingham said the schedule played out ideally for his team, coming off a bye week, playing a Thursday game, and having more time to rest and prepare for this week’s game.
“Two extra days are very valuable for a couple of key guys,” Whittingham said.
Utes on the air
Arizona (3-5, 1-4)
at No. 12 Utah (6-2, 4-1)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700