Utah Depth Chart Reflects Big Changes Ahead Of GameDay Matchup With Oregon
Oct 23, 2023, 12:44 PM
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s two-deep looks considerably different than it has all season ahead of a big College GameDay matchup with Oregon.
The Utes announced after their big win against USC on the road over the weekend that starting quarterback Cam Rising and starting tight end Brant Kuithe are shutting it down for the season. Additionally, starting middle linebacker Lander Barton will miss the remainder of the regular season but may have an opportunity to be back for whatever bowl game the Utes play in.
There is also a notable change at center for the Utes.
— Michelle Bodkin (@BodkinKSLsports) October 23, 2023
How Utah’s Two-Deep Shapes Up Now
With Rising no longer available, quarterback Bryson Barnes is now listed as the starter with redshirt freshman Nate Johnson listed as his backup. Head coach Kyle Whittingham talked about Barnes’ progression now that he’s QB1 and being voted new team captain in his Monday Press Conference.
“He seems to get better each week,” Whittingham said. “He completed 60% of his balls, he had one pick six that he’d want back, but he did a very nice job running the offense and taking care of the ball except for the one play. He just seems to continue to grow and develop which is a good thing.”
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“What we did with Brant and Cam not being available for the rest of the year- we’ve replaced them with two captains,” Whittingham continued. “Keaton Bills and Bryson. Keaton has been in place for a couple of weeks and then with the decision that they both weren’t going to be available the players elected [Barnes] to that last captain spot. They will serve as team captains for the rest of the season.”
Landen King slides in as Kuithe’s replacement in the U tight end position. While King still needs to put on some weight, he has slowly been making his way into the rotation over the past few weeks and has come up with some key touchdown catches for the Utes including this past weekend at the Coliseum.
Stanford transfer Levani Damuni along with the rest of the linebacker core will be looked at to step-up for Barton at middle linebacker. Whittingham was glowing of Damuni’s ability to step in a do a good job.
“Our one through 85 roster is the deepest it’s ever been and we’ve really tapped into it,” Whittingham said. “This is another occasion that we’re going to need to do that. He’s a tremendous players. He’s physical, tough, knows the defense inside and out. Is extremely smart and has only been here a short time. Sione Fotu becomes a more prominent guy now too, Medlock as well. Josh Calvert and if we can get Hayden Furey back.”
Finally, Kolinu’u Faaiu slides into the center spot in place of Jaren Kump who has been moved to the backup spot at left guard behind starter Keaton Bills.
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on X, Instagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports
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