HELMETS OFF

Utah QB Battle: Utes Must Make Decision On Starter ASAP

Oct 16, 2020, 11:07 AM | Updated: 11:28 am
Utah QB Battle...
Photo Courtesy: University Of Utah Athletics

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Rumor on the street has it that the Utah Football staff will make a decision by this weekend to narrow its choice of quarterbacks down to two and there is a possibility, wait for it … that a regular-season starter is named.

However, none of us will know that a decision of this magnitude was made until November during Utah’s game week.  Remember no media or anyone for that matter is allowed to watch practice.

If the rumor is true, and a decision will be made this early in camp I believe it is the best thing that could happen in preparation for the season.

The three quarterback competitors for Utah are Cam Rising, Jake Bentley and Drew Lisk.

First, whoever is named the starter needs reps with the first team and I mean lots of reps. Utah has not had the luxury of spring football this year, and let’s be honest, quarterbacks benefit from spring practice more than any other position group.

Let me give you an example of why getting all of those offseason reps is so important using Tom Brady.

Brady is one of the greatest QBs of all time, yet, you could see him struggle early this season with a new system and in large part, it was because of a lack of reps. Remember, no OTAs for the NFL this offseason and no pre-season games.  Reps are critical for quarterbacks and not having them hurt the quality of play even for the GOAT.

I’m sure that Utah would like more time to evaluate the QB position, but not giving the starter enough reps to prepare for the season will give him no chance of having success when the season starts.

At this point, I’m not sure giving the number one quarterback all the reps in fall camp will be enough.

You have to expect that one of two things will happen. Either mistakes and growing pains, like Tyler Huntley his first year, or a limited playbook.  If it’s the latter and Utah has to water down the playbook, that may cause Utah to be less than explosive on offense, which could be a problem in the win column considering Utah has to replace nine starters on defense.

Second, the team needs a leader to rally around. Tyler Huntley established himself as a leader of the team in the past few years and it made all of the players around him play better including the defense.

This is nothing more than a psychological benefit but that could be a significant key to Utah’s success. Every player wants to believe the team can win. If the team doesn’t believe in the quarterback, the team has no shot at winning, period.

Naming a starter now gives the team time to see how this guy acts. Not only on the field but in the locker room and in meetings. The new starter has to be given time to win over his teammates and waiting until a game week to name a starter doesn’t give the guy a chance to do this.

I recently watched a documentary on Terry Bradshaw, who won four Super Bowls and is in the NFL Hall of Fame. Bradshaw struggled his first five years with the Pittsburg Steelers not only on the field but in the locker room. It wasn’t until Bradshaw finally won over his teammates by his play on the field and his demeanor in the locker that the Steelers became a dynasty.

If one thing is sure about who becomes the starting quarterback for Utah this year is that the process has been short-circuited. That only means that the quarterback position will be a work in progress. Don’t get me wrong, that comment doesn’t mean Utah will struggle this year. It just means that the full potential of the offense will evolve as the season goes on.

There is a lot of talent and experience on offense aside from the quarterback. Whoever is the starter will benefit from this. The quarterback will have lots of weapons at his disposal and won’t have to do it alone.

Scott Mitchell hosts the Helmets Off podcast and KSL Unrivaled on KSL Newsradio. Find him on Twitter here.

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Utah QB Battle: Utes Must Make Decision On Starter ASAP