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Halfway through spring practices, Kyle Whittingham offers update on backup QB race

Redshirt freshman Brandon Rose got the majority of reps during Tuesday’s practice

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Utah quarterback Brandon Rose throws

Utah quarterback Brandon Rose gets in some work during spring drills at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

University of Utah Athletics

Going into spring practices, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said one of the main objectives is to identify the pecking order at backup quarterback behind starter Cam Rising, who is sidelined as he recovers from a knee injury.

Two weeks into spring camp, Whittingham indicated Tuesday there’s some clarity in that department.

“We’re just about at the halfway point. (Redshirt freshman) Brandon Rose got the vast majority of the reps at quarterback today,” he said. “He did some good things and also turned the ball over a couple of times but he’s making progress. Pretty much what I said last week — we’re starting to see a little bit more separation. Brandon’s probably the guy that’s shown out the best so far in spring ball.”

The other QB that has been getting most of the reps this spring, redshirt freshman Nate Johnson has been dealing with an minor injury. 

“Nothing is definitive by any means,” Whittingham said. “Nate’s slowed down by a little nagging leg injury. He didn’t get many reps today. Hopefully, we’ll get him back Thursday. We’ll see, though.”

What does Johnson need to do help his case?

“Just continue to assimilate the offense, run the offense effectively, understand all of his reads and his progressions,” Whittingham said. “And become more accurate. All of them need to be more accurate right now. We’re not nearly where we need to be with our completion percentage.”

Whittingham emphasized that the depth chart at backup quarterback isn’t settled yet. 

“We haven’t found it. It’s just gravitating in that direction right now,” he said. “There are eight more practices and then we’ll assess the entire body of work and maybe we’ll have found it then.”

Could this backup QB competition continue in fall camp in August? 

“It could. We’ll see how the next 2 ½ weeks go,” Whittingham said. “It could very well go into fall camp. We’d rather it not. But if it does, that’s just the way it is. The positive is, it’s for No. 2, 3 and 4. It’s not for the starter. We know who our starter is. It’s not quite as much of a sense of urgency in that respect.”

Whittingham added that he’s pleased with where his team is at this point of spring drills. 

“With seven practices down,” he said, “where we’ve gotten to just with the quarterback position and what we need to accomplish in the 15 total practices, I think we’re on track.”