Hays maintains edge on U. backup QB role
College football • Coach says it comes down to the senior’s edge in experience.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune
Former Alta High player Tyron Morris-Edwards, #27, gets congratulated by team mates after he intercepted a pass thrown by QB Jon Hays during Utah football practice, Saturday, August 18, 2012.
Let’s pretend Utah’s football season started today and Jordan Wynn’s shoulder was too sore for him to play.
Who would take the field and quarterback the Utes?
Your guy would be Jon Hays. Love him, hate him or be bored with him, the steady-playing senior maintained his slight edge over freshman Travis Wilson as the Utes concluded their fall camp with a scrimmage Saturday.
Since it was mainly the backups who saw the live work, the Utes didn’t keep stats, but coach Kyle Whittingham said Hays is ahead of Wilson, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound freshman out of San Clemente, Calif.
The nimble-footed Wilson has a flashier game than Hays that Utah fans are probably eager to see, but Hays has the experience. Right now, that is enough to keep him ahead of the youngster.
“All last season he played for us, and that is the major component,” Whittingham said of Hays’ advantage.
Hays started the final nine games of the 2011 season, going 6-3 as a starter and completing 120 of 214 passes for 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns. However, he also threw eight interceptions and wasn’t as efficient at moving Utah’s offense in the passing game as Wynn was.
The Utes had to rely on running back John White to carry the offense as a result, and became bogged down at times.
But fall camp has been a different story for Hays, whose passes have been sharper, and his decision making has improved.
“He is much more confident in his game, you can see that,” said offensive coordinator Brian Johnson.
Wilson, meanwhile, said he’ll continue to push for playing time. He admitted being disappointed in his production since he’d hoped to give Wynn a run for the starting role.
“I could have a chance to play this year, and I need to be ready for that and keep on studying and working hard,” he said.
Chances are he will play, since the Utes have no plans to redshirt him, Whittingham said. The coach also emphasized that the depth chart, as always, can change at any point.
“It’s not absolute,” he said.
As for Saturday’s effort, Whittingham wasn’t thrilled with any of the quarterbacks’ production in the two-minute drill.
That area has been troublesome for the Utes during camp and needs to be improved, said Wynn, who rested his shoulder for the third straight day.
“We have to get better on offense,” he said. “No one thinks we have arrived by any means.”
Wynn is expected back on the field on Monday along with several other Utes who have minor injuries.
Whittingham reiterated that Wynn’s sore shoulder isn’t a major concern.
“According to the trainers, there is nothing to be concerned about,” he said. “There is nothing wrong structurally, it’s just a tired arm. He has been trying to throw fastballs all fall camp, trying to put more zip on the ball, and it just got worn out.”
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