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Utah quarterback Cam Rising out for the year, Jake Bentley to start; Utes to play at Washington after ASU cancellation

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes quarterback Jake Bentley (8) tries to get the ball away as USC Trojans linebacker Hunter Echols (31) reaches out, as the Utah Utes host the USC Trojans, NCAA football at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

Cameron Rising lasted all of 14 plays as the University of Utah’s starting quarterback.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham opened his Tuesday morning Zoom press conference by announcing that Rising, a redshirt sophomore who won the starting job out of fall camp, is out for the season after sustaining a shoulder injury early in the second quarter of Saturday night’s 33-17 season-opening loss to USC.

Jake Bentley, who went 16-for-28 for 171 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in relief of Rising, will start this weekend.

The Utes were scheduled to play Arizona State on Sunday, but with the Sun Devils dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, that game was canceled by the Pac-12 late Tuesday afternoon. Instead, the Pac-12 announced Tuesday evening that Utah will play Saturday night at Washington. The game is schedule for 8:30 p.m., with an ESPN broadcast from Husky Stadium.

“Obviously a disappointing loss in Week 1, but the biggest loss, Cam Rising is done for the season, at least that is what has been indicated to me,” Whittingham said. “Barring a miracle, he’s not going to be with us, and we move forward, Jake Bentley is our guy. We’ll continue to get ready and go through the season.”

Early in the second quarter, with Utah pinned at its own 15-yard line, Rising was stripped-sacked by USC defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu. With Rising and the ball on the ground, he lunged to recover the ball and appeared to get caught up underneath multiple players.

USC recovered the fumble at the 4-yard line, scored on the ensuing drive, and Bentley came on for Rising on Utah’s next drive. Rising could be seen on the Utah sideline during the second half in street clothes.

During his postgame press conference late Saturday night, Whittingham indicated he knew the severity of Rising’s injury, saying his shoulder “took a pretty good shot,” followed by, “Jake is probably going to be the guy now.”

Bentley should be viewed as more than a capable backup option given he started 33 games for South Carolina from 2016-19.

“It didn’t take long for us to get to the No. 2 guy, and that’s where we’re at,” Whittingham said. “We have full confidence in Jake moving forward, and it’ll be a big benefit to him, taking all the reps with the 1s this week. He should be more comfortable and settled in this next game.”

Utah expected to be on the road, regardless of opponent

Whittingham said Tuesday morning that, regardless of the opponent, he expected to be playing a road game this weekend.

The obvious difference between playing Arizona State and Washington this weekend is that the latter means one less day of preparation due to a Saturday game vs. a Sunday game, but Whittingham made no excuses.

The 16th-year Utes head coach said Tuesday evening on his weekly ESPN 700 radio show, before the Washington game became official, that early game-week preparations had been 60% Arizona State and 40% Washington. Beginning Wednesday morning, all of the focus can turn to the Huskies.

“That’s our best guess right now,” Whittingham said on ESPN 700, about two hours before the Pac-12′s Utah-Washington announcement. “The conference has not given us definitive answers yet, so, I would hope we get something tonight, and then we can be certain of what we’re doing.”

USC had one player test positive

In the wake of USC’s trip to Salt Lake City over the weekend, Trojans head coach Clay Helton told reporters on Tuesday morning that one player tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

The unnamed player was part of USC’s travel roster, but tested three times within 36 hours of travel, and again on the day of the game.

A USC athletic department press release stated the player is symptomatic and being quarantined, while the Utah athletic department was among the entities being notified of the positive test.

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