Utah football: Utes head to Oregon without QB Wilson
Eugene, Ore. • The Utah Utes, already underdogs against No. 6 Oregon, will be at an even greater disadvantage when the teams play on Saturday. Starting quarterback Travis Wilson is not making the trip due to a concussion he suffered against Arizona State.
The decision to not take Wilson, who is 7-9 as a starter, was not made until Friday, according to Utah officials.
The teams kick off at 2 p.m. in Eugene.
Wilson has played in all 21 games since his true freshman season and has started the last 16.
Sophomore Adam Schulz, a one-time walk-on, will start in place of Wilson. He has played in three games this season, completing 22 of 45 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown and one interception.
While he is known for his strong arm, Schulz isn't as mobile a quarterback as Wilson is. The Utes have freshman Conner Manning also available, but Utah coach Kyle Whittingham would prefer to redshirt him.
Also not making the trip to Eugene due to injuries are linebacker Jared Norris and running back Kelvin York.
The bit of good news the Utes did get is tight end Jake Murphy, who was thought to be out for the season with an injured wrist, has healed fast enough and will make the trip.
While Wilson has struggled of late, throwing 16 interceptions this year, the Utes have stuck with him because coach Kyle Whittingham said he was the quarterback who gave the Utes their best chance of winning.
The most experience Shulz has had came against Arizona, when Wilson was hindered by a hand injury.
Schulz finished the game 12 of 23 for 142 yards and a touchdown after taking over for Wilson on the final possession of the first half.
Now, it will be on Schulz to craft an upset and end Utah's three-game losing streak.
It won't be an easy task, as Oregon has one of the country's best defenses.
The Ducks are giving up just 361.2 yards a game and are ranked 10th in scoring defense, holding opponents to 17.9 points a game.
"They are very good," Whittingham said. "Particularly the secondary, it is one of the best I've seen."
Even before the Utes learned Wilson wouldn't be available, Whittingham said establishing a run game would be key for the Utes. Now with York out, it will be up to Bubba Poole, Lucky Radley and an offensive line that has played poorly recently to get the job done.
Poole leads the Utes averaging 59.8 yards per game while Radley has 37 carries for 236 yards for the season.
Without a dominating run game, Utah must have its defense deliver another standout game to have any hope against the Ducks, who average 51.7 points.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is Utah's primary concern even if he isn't 100 percent healthy.
Mariota's running ability has been limited ever since he hurt his knee against UCLA but he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country, ranking eighth in total offense (336.2) and seventh in points responsible for (20.7).
Utah leads the nation in sacks and has played well against quarterbacks who have a similar style to Mariota.
"We know they have a tough offense, but we have done a good job against the run," defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi said. "We'll have our hands full, but we want to turn this season around and beating Oregon is the best way to do it."
Despite their three-game losing streak, the Utes have been encouraged by their play of late, with Whittingham noting the Utes have avoided the blowouts they suffered last year.
"We've been able to go toe-to-toe with a lot of teams but nobody cares about being close," Whittingham said. "Stanford was a big win, so there have been some positives and negatives, but the whole thing is you are who your record says you are, and right now we're not good enough. We have to continue to find answers."
But now the Utes must find those answers without a veteran quarterback.
Adam Schulz file
6-foot-1, 205 pounds, So.
Hometown • Muskego, Wis.
Of note • Saturday will mark his first career start. â¦ He has played in four games in his career, including three this year. â¦ He was 12 of 23 for 142 yards and a touchdown in Utah's loss at Arizona when he replaced injured Travis Wilson. â¦ Originally walked onto the team. â¦ Known to be a vocal leader with a strong arm.
Utah at No. 6 Oregon
O At Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Ore.)
Kickoff • Saturday, 2 p.m. MT
TV • FOX Sports 1
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah (4-5, 1-5), Oregon (8-1, 5-1)
Series history • Oregon leads 18-8
Last meeting • Oregon won, 31-24
About the Utes • A loss would match Utah's longest losing streak under coach Kyle Whittingham, when the Utes lost four in a row last season. â¦ Utah leads the nation in sacks per game (3.67). â¦ Utah is 4-10 against the Ducks in Eugene, with the last win coming in 1994, 34-16. â¦ Running back Kelvin York is questionable for the game after injuring his knee against ASU.
About the Ducks • Are coming off a 26-20 loss to Stanford. â¦ Quarterback Marcus Mariota is averaging 281.2 passing yards a game. â¦ Bralon Addison is third nationally averaging 19.7 yards per punt return. â¦ The Ducks are holding teams to 146.8 yards rushing.