Utah freshman quarterback Travis Wilson knows beating out the experienced Jon Hays for the starting role at Utah will be difficult to do, but the rookie said following Tuesday's practice that he likes his chances.
He was clearly disappointed that he came out of fall camp as the No. 3 quarterback and now feels he can prove to the coaches his ability to guide the Utes.
"I need to clean up the mistakes I'm making in practice, and that will have the coaches have confidence in me to run the plays," he said. "I need to get rid of the mistakes so they trust me, but I'm definitely confident if I get the chance I can make a play to help the team."
Wilson has filled mainly a rushing role with the Utes, rushing 10 times for 18 yards and two touchdowns. He is 3 for 3 for 49 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Scott against the Aggies, but believes he is ready for more challenges.
"I definitely feel like I'm getting a second chance," he said. "I am just working hard and studying BYU and doing what I can to improve. I can't let off a bit or make the same mistakes in practice."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he will tell the players who is starting Thursday afternoon but won't announce the starter publicly.
As for the offense, coordinator Brian Johnson said he is making some changes to fit each player's style, but overall the offense remains the same.
"We're just doing some things to accentuate their talents," he said.
Another tough one
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton gave the Utes fits with his running abilities, rushing 17 times for 86 yards. Whittingham admitted it won't get any easier this week when the Utes face BYU quarterback Riley Nelson.
"He is an athletic quarterback who is competitive and has a lot of leadership qualities," he said. "He has the ability to do so many things. He runs well, and he is an accurate passer. He does a lot of good things for them. To me, he is the catalyst for what they are doing."
Utah's offensive line was known to be suspect, given the inexperience at the tackle positions, but even quarterback Jordan Wynn admitted being surprised at the ease with which Utah State blew through Utah's line.
Wynn was sacked three times and suffered his career-ending shoulder injury in the first half.
"It was a tough game offensively all the way around," he said. "But the coaches will move some guys around and get it fixed in the end. But Friday, I don't know what happened Friday."
Sam Brenner is expected to start at left tackle in place of Miles Mason, who started against Utah State. He has been moved to backup at right tackle behind Percy Taumoelau.
No John White
Utah running back John White, who rushed 27 times for 96 yards against the Aggies but also left the game momentarily after injuring his ankle, was not present at practice Tuesday. Utah sports information directors said he had some academic responsibilities to address.