It’d be easy to crush Charlie Brewer, to label him a quitter, to call him entitled and selfish and petulant, for up and leaving the Utah football program after three starts, two losses and a benching late in that second defeat and, then, a demotion to the Utes’ second string heading into conference play this coming Saturday.
Don’t do it.
The quarterback transferred to Utah from Baylor before this season as the presumed starter, as a kid who could lift the Utes from a traditional run-first offense that had seen its share of success in the Pac-12, but never won the league title outright.
Before the season started, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said, as he often has in previous preseasons, that he wanted to open up the attack. Not to transform the offense into anybody’s idea of the Air Raid, but to become more explosive, to make defenses cover — or be worried about covering — the entire field on every play.
He seemed to mean it this time … because he knew he had to in order to take his team where it had never before gone.
That intention didn’t exactly pan out.
And Brewer got much of the blame.
His stats went like this … 19 of 27 for 233 yards, two touchdowns and one pick in a win over Weber State; 15 of 26 for 147 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a loss to BYU; 14 of 26 for 104 yards, 0 touchdowns and one pick through two-and-a-half quarters in a loss to San Diego State.
When the Utah offense heaved and burped against the Aztecs, Brewer was replaced by backup Cam Rising, who rallied the Utes to a comeback that nearly flipped the outcome to victory, falling just short in triple overtime.
As the benching became solidified with the new order heading into Saturday’s game against Washington State, Brewer bolted.
A question subsequently emerges: What the hell happened here?
It’s not as though Brewer is a lousy quarterback. In four seasons at Baylor, including the COVID-laced one last year, Brewer threw for 9,700 yards. He fired up 1,304 passes, completing 828 of them. He lofted 65 touchdown throws against just 28 interceptions. In 2019, he led the Bears to 11 wins and a Sugar Bowl berth.
Another question: Did Charlie Brewer suddenly lose his talent?
No, he did not.
What he did do is transfer to Utah, a place where quarterbacks go to die.
Not all of them, just most of them.
Brewer, as it turns out, did not want to die on this Hill.
So, he left.
It’s his life, his decision, his call.
Let the man go in peace.
Utah was not the setting he thought it would be. He must have been blind. If there’s more to it than that, Brewer’s kept it between him and the Utah coaches.
His fate is a familiar one to anybody who’s watched Ute quarterbacks since Whittingham took the helm in 2005, after Alex Smith soared to heights under Urban Meyer. After that, the story has been mostly sad and sorry.
Brian Johnson had his ups and downs before flourishing in 2008. Tyler Huntley did likewise, peaking in 2019. Everyone else? Well … yeah, sad and sorry.
Most recently was the case of Jake Bentley, who came to Utah before last season from South Carolina, where he threw for 7,527 yards, hurling nearly twice as many touchdowns as picks, playing in the SEC. He showed up at Utah, chucked six touchdowns, six interceptions, and skidded and lurched.
He added to the Utes’ recent history of quarterbacks not being what they had been or were supposed to be.
What they ended up being was … not ugly, rather ooooogly.
Factor in names like Tommy Grady, Terrance Cain, Jordan Wynn, Jon Hays, Travis Wilson, Kendal Thompson, Troy Williams, Jason Shelley, and then … the major blunder of favoring Jack Tuttle over a kid who wanted to go to Utah, but ended up at BYU, name of Zach Wilson.
Probably better not to compare the way rival BYU is handling its quarterbacks to the way Utah has handled its QBs.
Back to Charlie Brewer.
The established quarterback came in to thrive and he left in a heap, ducking out down a back alley.
Blame him for checking out after three games if you want. Blame him for Utah’s two losses. Blame him for not making Utah’s offense what it was supposed to be so far this year.
But he’s probably blaming himself for ever transferring to Utah. There had to be certain things said to him before he showed up, almost none of which came to fruition, likely the same things that were said to Bentley.
Here’s the truth: Something’s broken when it comes to playing quarterback for the Utes. Utah has promising young guys in the pipeline, but …
Don’t blame Brewer for the way he played for the Utes, for the way he left them.
No. Blame the Utes for what they do to guys like Brewer, guys who show up with promise, with promises, but leave with that promise, those promises, badly unfulfilled.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.