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Will they play or will they sit? Status of Ute playmakers in question

Cam Rising, Tavion Thomas, Dalton Kincaid among those whose availability is uncertain this week

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Utah quarterback Cameron Rising hands off to running back Tavion Thomas during game against UCLA at Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Utah quarterback Cameron Rising hands off to running back Tavion Thomas during game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Both players are in question for Saturday’s tilt against the Arizona Wildcats at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

This article was first published in the Ute Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.

Imagine this scenario before the season began.

Heading into November, Utah’s without starting quarterback Cam Rising; tight ends Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid; and running back Tavion Thomas.

“This offense has the depth. Certainly, the chemistry may be lacking but the guys that we’re putting in there are high-level players themselves. They want to come out and prove that they’re ready to do a good job. — Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding

Well, that could be the case when the Utes play Arizona on Saturday night.

Rising sat out last week’s win at Washington State. The coaching staff is hopeful he’ll be able to play this week, but who knows? Kuithe suffered a season-ending injury in September. Kincaid was injured at WSU and his status is uncertain. As for Thomas, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, well, he also did not play against Washington State. His status is also unclear.

Backup walk-on quarterback Bryson Barnes filled in admirably for Rising in the 21-17 win over the Cougars. And freshman Jaylon Glover ran for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Certainly, the backups inserted into the lineup are performing well.

“This offense has the depth,” said offensive line coach Jim Harding. “Certainly, the chemistry may be lacking but the guys that we’re putting in there are high-level players themselves. They want to come out and prove that they’re ready to do a good job. The chemistry, the receivers throw with Bryson Barnes on a regular basis. I don’t see it being a huge issue. You’d love to have the luxury of having no injuries but I don’t think the injuries have necessarily (negatively impacted) the chemistry.”

The good news for Utah is, it’s in the Pac-12 race. After facing the Wildcats this week, the Utes host Stanford the next week, followed by games at No. 8 Oregon and at Colorado.

And can the Utes get healthy for the stretch run of the season as they seek to repeat as Pac-12 champions?

In case you missed it

Zack Moss and Julian Blackmon are reunited.

The former Ute teammates were stars for the Utah football team for four years together from 2016-19. Now, after Moss was traded to Indianapolis by the Buffalo Bills ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, he joins Blackmon on the Colts.

Numbers game

85: The pick that the Indianapolis Colts picked former Utah defensive back Julian Blackmon was taken in the 2020 NFL draft.

86: The pick that the Buffalo Bills selected former Utah running back Zack Moss in the 2020 NFL draft.

From the archives

Extra points

  • Here’s how high Utah climbed and how far BYU fell in the latest college football power rankings (Deseret News)
  • Canzano: Pulling back the curtain on Cam Rising’s disappearing act (KSL)
  • ‘Weren’t keeping anything secret’: Kyle Whittingham responds to criticism by Fox announcers (Deseret News)
  • No. 12 Utah right in the middle of the hotly contested Pac-12 race heading into November (Deseret News)
  • Why QB Bryson Barnes stepped in for Cam Rising — and how he led the No. 14 Utes to victory over WSU (Deseret News)
  • 3-star Florida WR Daidren Zipperer commits to Utah football (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

In the end, Utah — also without running back Tavion Thomas — survived a fourth-quarter turnover in its own territory, and mostly relies on its second string QB, its shaky defense and its inexperienced running backs ... this is what you call depth on a football team.

— itswhatithink

I suspect the last thing on a coaches mind 45 minutes prior to an important game is having to spoon feed the announcers — who should have done their homework and who should be professional enough to know this is on them and not the coach. Seriously, grow up.

— TanaUte

Up next

Nov. 4 | 3 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Colorado | @Boulder, Colorado | Pac-12 Network

Nov. 4 | 8 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. Stanford | @Stanford, California | Pac-12 Mountain

Nov. 5 | 5:30 p.m. | Football | vs. Arizona | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Nov. 6 | 1 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. California | @Berkeley, California | Pac-12 Mountain

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Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid looks for daylight against San Diego State in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. Dalton’s status for Saturday game against Arizona is up in the air.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News