Utah football: Injuries force Utes to adjust
The Utah Utes had to adjust to a new quarterback in their win against UNLV. Now comes a probable change on their offensive line.
Preseason all-conference center Zane Taylor is doubtful for Saturday's game at New Mexico after he injured his right knee late in Saturday's 38-10 win over the Rebels.
Sophomore starting right guard Tevita Stevens will start in Taylor's place if the senior can't play. Sophomore Sam Brenner would start at right guard.
Which quarterback will be getting the snaps is unknown, too, since starter Jordan Wynn remains questionable with a sprained thumb.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is doing his best to brush off any worries over the unfamiliar lineup, praising backup quarterback Terrance Cain for his efforts in Saturday's win.
Cain was 13-of-20 for 207 yards in Saturday's conference opener, improving his record to 8-1 as a starter. Wynn is 4-2.
"Terrance Cain was particularly efficient," Whittingham said. "There were no picks and he quietly went about his business. He did a nice job managing the offense."
Both Cain and Wynn said they were comfortable taking snaps with Stevens, a former walk-on who started at right guard as a redshirt freshman.
"I'll be comfortable with him with the first snap," Cain said. "He is going to work hard and play hard. Nobody is worried about it. We all have confidence in everything we can do."
Nevertheless, the 6-foot-1, 290-pound Stevens will have some big expectations to live up to since the 6-2, 309-pound Taylor is a two-time all-MWC pick and is regarded as one of the team's strongest leaders.
"He is the quarterback on the offensive line, making all the calls," Wynn said. "The experience and leadership he brings, it's definitely huge."
As for his own availability, Wynn said he is "living in the training room," and doing all he can to return as soon as possible.
"I've been doing everything they've got in there and it has been working," he said. "There has been a tremendous difference between this week and last week but I have a ways to go, so we'll see."
Wynn had the best starting debut by a true Utah freshman against the Lobos last year, passing for 297 yards and two touchdowns in the Utes' 45-14 win.
If there is a time for Wynn to be hurt this season, now is ideal, since the Utes are in the easiest part of their schedule. After playing at New Mexico, the Utes host San Jose State then have a bye before traveling to Iowa State.
Wynn, predictably, never believes there is a good time for him to be sidelined.
"I'd cut it off to play," he said of his thumb.
Utes' possible starting O-line this week
Left tackle • John Cullen (6-5, 285, Jr.): Two big games for first-year tackle.
Left guard • Caleb Schlauderaff (6-4, 300, Sr.): Has won 101 of 112 plays for team-best grade of 90 percent.
Center • Tevita Stevens (6-1, 290, So.): Likely to start in place of injured Zane Taylor.
Right guard • Sam Brenner (6-3, 290, So.): Played mostly on special teams in 2009, never started.
Right tackle • Tony Bergstrom (6-6, 310, Jr.): Utah's play leader with 116.