After a year of uncertainty and inconsistency at the quarterback spot, things are really looking up for the Utes after spring camp. Jordan Wynn was back and looked as good as ever, with increased size, strength, and skill. He was great through the beginning of camp and into the middle before tailing off a bit in the later parts of the spring (possibly due to fatigue) and then had three turnovers in the Red-White Game. Regardless, the Utes have their guy back in the fold, and if he stays healthy, should be in the top half of Pac 12 signal callers this season.
The two early enrollee true freshmen, Chase Hansen and Travis Wilson, were given the co-backup spots heading into camp, jumping ahead of incumbent Jon Hays. Both Hansen and Wilson had their moments, both good and bad, before Wilson started asserting himself midway through camp and started to pull away. While he still needs weight, Wilson is big, accurate, has a good arm, and has made some improvement to his throwing motion. After a tremendous performance in the spring game, it's clear that he's the number 2 quarterback heading into the fall (I was VERY wrong and didn't think he had the mechanics to compete this early) and could be ready to contribute early. Hansen, on the other hand, struggled with the speed of the college game, often underthrowing or overthrowing receivers, and had issues with accuracy in general. The arm strength is there and he was deadly when running the ball, specifically out of packages designed to utilize his speed, but the throwing aspect of his game is not there yet to be an effective quarterback. Hansen did improve as the spring went on, but not at the same rate that Wilson did.
Handling a demotion of sorts with class and dignity was Jon Hays, who went from being the starter last season to fourth on the depth chart. Hays did what he did last season, making plays and showing leadership, but the physical tools of Wynn, Hansen, Wilson, and even Schulz aren't there.
Adam Schulz was the one walk-on to get significant work with the others and showed that he may have be a decent option down the line. Schulz has the most armstrength of all the quarterbacks, but is very slight and wasn't consistently accurate.
Inside The Utes Depth Chart:
What happens next:
Wynn is your starter unless injured and even if Wilson was to push him, Wynn's experience will continue to win out. This situation may be revisited again next season, but for 2012, if Jordan Wynn can stay off of the trainer's table, he'll be the number 1 guy.
Wilson made it apparent that he's now number 2. We saw it towards the end of spring when he received almost all of the second string reps and in the spring gam when it was more of the same. Wilson earned those reps and from start to finish was the second best quarterback in camp. The question about what to do with him is still out there though. With Wynn the starter, do you prep Wilson as your backup, or do you give that role to Jon Hays, who has the experience, in an attempt to save Wilson's redshirt? How the season plays out and whether or not Jordan Wynn is injured at some point will likely determine what happens. If Wynn suffers an injury in game 2 of the season, do you turn it over to Wilson, or go with the experience of Hays? If Wynn has an injury in game 10 and the Utes are still competing for a Pac 12 title, do you burn Wilson's redshirt that late in the season because he gives you a better chance to win than Hays, or go with Hays and save the redshirt? It will be interesting to see what happens and if the coaches put a plan in place.
Hays will likely get the nod as the number 2 or 3 depending on what they decide to do with Wilson. He's really in someone else's hands, but remains a viable backup option that showed he is very capable of winning Pac 12 games.
Hansen is the biggest question. He indicated that he'd likely take a mission after his freshman year and all indications are that he'll stick to that plan. He didn't do enough in spring ball to warrant consistent playing time, but his running ability is something that could be utilized in certain packages (think a better Corbin Louks with better passing and running skills) while he continues to develop as a passer. Hansen may bring an intangible that is more important to the team in 2012 than Wilson does with his ability to run which could earn him game reps. Expect him to sit down with the Utah coaches and develop a plan for what he'll do over the next couple of years, whether it be to head out immediately for a mission to create a bit of separation between himself and Wilson, play this year and then head out, or stick around for four to five years. The option of a position change is also out there, but it's not likely that the coaching staff and Hansen will be ready to give up on him at quarterback just yet.
The best case scenario for Utah in 2012 is Jordan Wynn staying healthy and being productive, starting every game and allowing Wilson and Hansen to both redshirt while Jon Hays gets the mop-up duty. Hansen then gets to go on his mission and creates class separation between himself and Wilson before returning for the 2015 season to backup Wilson in his senior year before competing with future recruits starting in 2016.
Spring Review: Quarterbacks
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