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On consecutive Saturdays, Brandon Cox has thrown for seven touchdowns and run for another.

While the junior's spring scrimmage stats aren't the ones that will go down in the record book, the impression he's made with his opportunities may matter when it comes to picking a starter this fall. At the quarterback position, with one competitor injured and another hitting the learning curve, Cox enters the final week of spring camp as a clear standout at Utah's most critical position battle.

There's still a long way to go, but coach Kyle Whittingham wasn't shy after Tuesday's practice with compliments for his most experienced passer this spring.

"Brandon Cox played his best football since he's been a Ute hands down," he said. "He's stayed healthy the whole spring and has really looked polished at the quarterback position."

Coming into the spring, Cox was expected to be the most polished passer, given that he had three years of a head start on junior Troy Williams and freshman Tyler Huntley. But the newcomers' physical gifts initially made them a stronger conversation piece than Cox, who so far in his Utah career has been unable to stay healthy.

But this spring has been different, as Cox has held up through five weeks of spring and should be ready for a full session on Saturday's Spring Game. He's succeeded during Utah's scrimmages, considered the most important live work for evaluating players. The coaching staff has also been impressed at what he can do besides throw: identify blitzes, reset protection and routes, and keep the offense moving briskly.

"He's a veteran, he's been around a long time," offensive co-coordinator Aaron Roderick said. "It's funny how the game slows down for you once you've been around. Some of the new guys, things are moving pretty fast. [Cox] looks like he's a veteran player."

Spring Game stakes

Utah's Spring Game kicks off at noon at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Don't look for a dazzling variety of plays. Don't look for Utah's established players at deep positions to risk injury.

But does it matter? Yes. When the Red team takes on the White team, the loser has to clean the Utah football facility next week.

New coaches will be "in charge" for the game: Receivers coach Guy Holliday will lead the Red team, while tight ends coach Fred Whittingham Jr. will preside over the White team. The game will have 10-minute quarters, and rules that favor a more competitive game (the trailing team can keep the possession after a score). Utah will draft the teams on Wednesday.

The festivities also include the MUSS football game at 10 a.m., the alumni football game at 11 a.m., and a tailgate competition. The game airs on Pac-12 Networks and ESPN 700. Admission is free.


Kyle Whittingham said center Hiva Lutui was injured during Tuesday's practice and did not return. There was no immediate information on the severity (or lack thereof) of the injury. … Whittingham said the coaching staff has not determined who will sit out during the Spring Game, but added it was likely that both Cox and Huntley will play the entire game. He also anticipates the offensive line will play for both Red and White squads, saying the unit is not deep enough to field independent starting fronts for each squad.

Twitter: @kylegoon