Utah’s ailing offense could get some much needed help for Saturday’s game with the possibility that tight end Jake Murphy could be cleared to play against Oregon, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said following Wednesday’s practice.
Murphy had wrist surgery following Utah’s game against UCLA on Oct. 3 and was thought to be sidelined for the season, but he has rehabbed faster than anyone expected.
The junior hasn’t been cleared for full contact, but could be soon, Whittingham said.
"If Jake has any possibility of playing, he will be on the trip," Whittingham said.
Utah’s offense has been hampered since senior Westlee Tonga has been sidelined with a knee injury, leaving the Utes without two of the key players for which they designed their offense.
Murphy was fourth on the team in receiving yards (179) and fifth in receptions (10) before he was injured.
Originally the Utes hoped he might be back for a bowl game if the Utes go to a bowl, but that timeline has moved up.
"He is remarkably ahead of schedule," Whittingham said.
Running back Kelvin York is still dinged up from Utah’s game against ASU and may not be available on Saturday, Whittingham said.
York had 12 carries for 39 yards against ASU before leaving the game with a knee injury.
Whittingham said the Utes still must rely on the run game against the Ducks.
"If we are going to have a chance to control the football, we have to run it," he said.
No sense of panic
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said this week Oregon hasn’t hit the panic mode after losing to Stanford. While others might build up contests such as the meeting between the Ducks and Cardinal as the games of the century and so forth, Helfrich isn’t buying into that hype, even if the game ultimately keeps Oregon out of the national title game.
"I don’t think there is any huge program-changing things we take from this," he said. "Would we have done some things differently on defense? Probably, but you know, we do that even if we win 52-3. We say what could we have done better or differently. They’ve beaten us the last two years and we tip our cap to them and move on."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.