New Utah QB may have soft spot for Ol' Wazzu

ADAM SCHULZ, the backup Utah quarterback who will make his second collegiate start this Saturday in Pullman, no doubt has a soft spot in his heart for Ol' Wazzu. For it was against the Cougars a year ago that he saw his first-ever college playing time. And what little action he had on center stage, he made the most of, going 2-for-2 passing, with one aerial covering 44 yards.

That long pass set up the final TD in the Utes' 49-6 victory in Salt Lake City.

As it turned out, those two passes against the Cougs were Schulz' only tosses of 2012. In fact, that game was the only one he played in last season.

This year has been different, thanks first to a hand injury and now a concussion suffered by starting quarterback Travis Wilson, who is out for the season and perhaps is facing the end of his career.

Schulz, a third-year sophomore and one-time walk on, possess a strong arm, quick release, good accuracy and so-so mobility. He started this past weekend and went the whole way in a 44-21 loss at Oregon. He was 13 for 30 passing for 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

"I was proud of the way Adam Schulz came in in a very difficult situation -- his first collegiate start against a top-10 team on the road in a hostile environment," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said this week. "I thought he handled it well. He missed some throws, didn't play perfectly, and he understands that, but did a pretty good job...

"Adam's numbers were not indicative of how he played because there were five or six drops, balls that should have been caught, which would have improved his numbers greatly."

Cougs vs. Utes

The kickoff: 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium

TV: Pac-12 Networks

The line: WSU by 1

The series: Utes lead 7-5

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Schulz has also had meaningful action this season in two other games, both road losses: 19-3 to USC on October 26 and 35-24 to Arizona on Oct. 19.

For the year, the 6-1, 205-pounder from Muskego, Wisc., has completed 35 of 75 passes (47 percent) for 428 yards, two TDs and two INTs.

Barring injury, he looks to play the whole game against the Cougs. Whittingham has said several times in recent weeks that burning the redshirt of touted freshman Conner Manning, who is next on the depth chart, would require a "worst-case scenario."

Utah's depth chart for this week only lists Schulz and Manning at QB, but Whittingham said the guy next in line is another true freshman, Brandon Cox.

Quarterback uncertainly is nothing new for Utah. The team's co-offensive coordinator, Brian Johnson, was the last starting Utah QB to make it through an entire season unscathed. That was in 2008. This is the fourth-straight season that the Utes' No. 1 quarterback sustained a season-ending injury. Last year it was John Hays.

"Before the season I was talking about how hopefully this was the year that we were able to start and finish with the same guy (at QB)," Whittingham said. "And that proved not to be the case. You look at everything you are doing. Is there something we are doing to put them in harm's way? We've evaluated everything over and over to make sure it's not something that is an error on our part as coaches. We can't come up with anything other than just that's the way the ball bounces, and things have happened."


  • Whittingham on WSU: "Mike Leach has done a nice job with that program. They've improved … Connor Halliday is a very good quarterback. Throwing the ball a ton. We expect anywhere from 50-80 throws … They are playing good defense. Beat USC in the Coliseum earlier this year. They are a much-improved team and we've got our work cut out for us as we do every week."

  • Utah is tied for the second-toughest schedule in the country with Tennessee. The combined FBS record of Utah's 10 opponents is 55-21 (a winning percentage of 72).

  • The Utes have lost their last four games since beating Stanford on Oct. 12. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah is 8-17 overall in conference play, including 3-9 on the road.

  • Utah and WSU have played six common opponents this year: USC, Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon. Utah is 1-5 against them (beating Stanford), and WSU is 2-4 (beating USC and Arizona).

  • Utah leads the nation in total sacks (36) and sacks per game (3.60). Senior defensive end Trevor Reilly is second in the Pac-12, and one of the tops in the nation, in tackles for loss (15) and sacks (8.5). He's also fifth in the nation in fumble recoveries with three.

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