Utah football’s Van Fillinger ruled out for the season

Fillinger, a third-year defensive end, has a lower-body injury, per Kyle Whittingham. Utah’s leader in sacks, Fillinger was inactive vs. Arizona on Saturday

(Utah Athletics) University of Utah defensive end Van Fillinger participates in a drill during a Utes practice. Fillinger, along with Xavier Carlton, is making progress at his position this season.

Van Fillinger’s season is over.

The University of Utah defensive end is done for 2022 with what Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham on Monday morning called a lower-body injury. He was inactive for the first time in his career on Saturday for No. 14 Utah’s 45-20 win over Arizona at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Another third-year sophomore, Miki Suguturaga, started in Fillinger’s place.

Fillinger, a Draper native and former standout at Corner Canyon High School, leads Utah with five sacks, giving him 10.5 in 27 career games dating back to the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

“Van’s a really good player for us and has really done some good things for us the last couple of years, so we’ll really miss Van the rest of this season,” Whittingham said. “He brings a lot to the table, and he’s particularly stout against the run.”

Instead of five defensive ends getting reps, that number is now down to four. Jonah Elliss has started in six of the eight games he has played in at defensive end, while Suguturaga, Connor O’Toole, and Gabe Reid will continue to get game reps.

Underclassmen Senior Night participants will be a mystery

Whittingham’s preference for Senior Night is to, of course, honor his seniors. But the coach also wants to honor any underclassmen who are leaving, or at least considering leaving his program for the NFL Draft.

That latter part, players with eligibility still to use being honored on Senior Night, is going to remain a mystery until Saturday. Utah could release a list of honorees in the days leading up to the game, but Whittingham on Monday didn’t sound like that was going to happen.

“You’ll find out Saturday,” Whittingham said with a laugh. “We don’t even know right now, we’re formulating and getting the info right now. If you’re leaning towards coming out, go ahead and get recognized. Worst case, you get recognized again next year.

“We’ll have some guys get recognized this year that were recognized last year.”

Utah lists 12 players with senior eligibility, a group that includes Brant Kuithe, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, but could opt to come back in 2023 for a sixth season via redshirt, which he has not used during his career.

There are another 18 Utes listed as having junior eligibility, while some of the 34 sophomores on the roster are in their third year out of high school, which would make them draft-eligible.

The highest-profile third-year sophomore on Utah’s roster is cornerback Clark Phillips III, who is projected as a first-round pick in 2023. Among the juniors, Cam Rising is in his fifth year of college, and while the widely-held assumption is that he will not return to Utah in 2023, he has yet to announce his future plans.

Utah-Oregon, USC-UCLA placed in six-day window

A colossal day for the Pac-12 on Nov. 19 will see Utah travel to Oregon, and USC go to the Rose Bowl to face UCLA.

As of Monday, both games, chock full of Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff possibilities, have kickoff times, but we don’t know which game will be in which slot yet.

Both games were placed in a six-day hold, meaning the networks want to see how games this weekend play out before making a decision. One of the games will be a 6 p.m. MT kickoff on FOX, with the other an 8:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN. Decisions will be announced either Saturday night or Sunday morning.

The Utes, Ducks, Trojans and Bruins represent all of the power in the Pac-12 this fall. Oregon is the conference’s lone team without a conference loss, while Utah, USC, and UCLA all have one loss, leaving all three in the mix for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2.