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Utah football: Utes new OC Christensen talks QBs

Published April 23, 2014 11:35 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Like others, Utah offensive coordinator Dave Christensen said he was thrilled to hear quarterback Travis Wilson has been cleared to participate in spring ball after recent exams showed there was no change in his medical condition. "We're excited to have him back in the program and doing what he loves," Christensen said. But will Wilson resume his role as the Utes' starter? That remains to be seen as Christensen is looking forward to a quarterback battle between Wilson, Adam Schulz and freshmen Brandon Cox, Conner Manning and Micah Thomas when spring ball starts on March 18. While Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has characterized the starting role as Wilson's to lose if he is cleared to play, Christensen seems to relish the idea that the quarterback depth chart may not be decided until the fall. "I like competition," he said. "When you have two guys battling, you are going to get the best out of every player," he said. "Think of how good your team would be." Joining the competition in the fall will be incoming freshman Donovan Isom and Kendal Thompson, a sophomore who is transferring from Oklahoma. Thompson was recruited by Christensen, who played in just two games at Oklahoma. He was sidelined with a broken foot while Trevor Knight emerged as the Sooners' quarterback. Christensen described the dual threat quarterback as "quick as a cat." "His skill set is similar to guys I have had in the past," Christensen said. "He is elusive and can extend plays. He can come in and compete like anybody else. To get a player of his caliber at that position, any position, is great." So what will Christensen be looking for out of his quarterbacks when he finally gets on the field with them? "You have to have a guy who can protect the football, that is the most important thing," he said. "You want someone who doesn't hurt the football team and can make great decisions and execute an up-tempo offense." Christensen said he plans to use the shotgun almost exclusively with a lot of variety. The tight ends and running backs will line up as receivers frequently. Who those players will be is undecided, much like the quarterback position in Christensen's mind. "The good thing about being new is there is no preconceived idea where guys are," he said. "We're going to evaluate them day by day. Everyone has a clean slate with me." - Lya Wodraska