Utah turns to Travis Wilson at QB ... for now

And so goes the carousel of quarterbacks at Utah. But don't call it a two-quarterback system because that's not what this is at all.

“We’re waiting for somebody to separate themselves and really take ownership of the position,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of his Travis Wilson-Kendal Thompson conundrum.

On Monday, Whittingham announced -- after initially saying he’d keep this information closer to his vest going into this week -- that Wilson would be the starter for No. 19 Utah this weekend against No. 20 USC.

“We have had some back-and-forth the last couple weeks and it wasn’t by design,” Whittingham said. “Bottom line: We would love for one of them to take ownership and become the guy, because I’m not a two-quarterback system fan. I haven’t seen that work well very often, if ever. So we’re trying to get that separation but they’ve got to play themselves into that separation."

Wilson led the Utes to victory in the Michigan game, but Thompson kept them in it when Wilson had to exit early in the second quarter to have an injury checked out. When Wilson struggled early against UCLA, Whittingham turned to Thompson, who led the Utes to a huge upset win over the then-No. 8 Bruins, prompting Whittingham to start him last Thursday against Oregon State. But when Thompson had a lackluster first half, Whittingham decided to give Wilson the second half. And then Wilson led the Utes to a double-overtime victory.


It’s not “some” back-and-forth like Whittingham said. It’s a lot of back-and-forth. And for a top-20 team that’s headed into the seventh game of its season, having a problem of abundance at quarterback is basically like having no one at quarterback.

Either Wilson or Thompson needs to secure himself as the starter going forward if the Utes want to compete for the South Division title. This you-go-no-you-go shtick is only going to carry the Utes so far.

Wilson has completed 63 of 111 passes for 833 yards (7.5 yards per attempt) and seven touchdowns without an interception. Thompson has completed 28 of 47 passes for 301 yards (6.4 yards per attempt), two TDs and two picks. But with what Thompson lacks in passing he makes up for with his feet. He’s the team’s second-leading rusher behind Devontae Booker, with 51 carries for 164 yards and one touchdown.

Whittingham said that both players are handling the competition well and that he’s making sure neither player feels as though he has “too short of a leash.”

But the truth of the matter is that the leash is getting shorter for the entire team the further this competition goes into the season. They’re two different quarterbacks, both with their own pros and cons. And with Wilson getting the start against USC this weekend, he’s going to have the next shot at becoming the man for Utah.

History says it might not stick, but seeing how quickly things can change for that position at Utah, maybe Wilson will finally step forward and secure the job for good.

“It’s got to happen on the field and we have to see one of them take charge and that’s what we’re hoping happens now,” Whittingham said. “One of them needs to just go ahead and take charge and take the position and run with it.”