Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham has made it clear all week that he would trim the three-man quarterback competition down to two by Friday.
He didn't disappoint, but he did surprise, opting to name true freshman Jordan Wynn the current No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart.
In addition, last year's backup Corbin Louks, whom the media and many fans had been proclaiming as the clear heir apparent, has been relegated to No. 3 behind JUCO transfer Terrance Cain.
From all reports, none of the quarterbacks have particularly distinguished themselves during camp.
Which in and of itself is very telling, and may be the reason why the staff at Utah is willing to turn the reigns over to a true freshman.
To be honest, I'm really not that surprised. I know there were a lot of folks who thought Corbin Louks was a shoo-in to lead the Utes behind center this year, but Louks just never seemed to make sense.
While he may bring leadership, big play creativity and system experience, Louk's style of play doesn't fit the strengths of Utah football.
With plenty of talent at the other skill positions and a phenomenal defense, Utah doesn't need the risk/reward of a big play-maker with a propensity to force the ball and make mistakes.
Instead, the team as a whole is better off with the option that maximizes the talents of the other skill positions, and provides the best fit for new offensive coordinator Dave Schramm’s scheme.
Louks is a terrific runner with the capability to force defenses to stuff the box, and then open up receivers on an option fake. If Schramm’s scheme emphasized a run-oriented spread, or if the Utes were short on offensive play-makers, Louks would have already been the hands-down starter.
But what Utah needs is a signal caller who can open up the offense with his arm, manage the game, avoid mistakes, and put the ball in the hands of Utah's many play-makers.
Louks was never that guy.
A run-oriented spread by Louks would be less conducive for a power runner like Matt Asiata, Utah's featured back and best returning Offensive player. Asiata, at 220 lbs., will by no means beat folks on the outside in an option oriented run design.
Instead, Asiata would thrive on a well-balanced attack that forces the defense to spread out. This would create the space Asiata needs to find holes through the line of scrimmage and capitalize on his size, plowing through defenses with fewer defenders in the box.
In addition, Utah is absolutely loaded with depth and talent at receiver, with as many as eight game-ready players. As was the case with last year’s Sugar Bowl, there are very few defenses that could effectively cover four or even five first-team level receivers.
Could you imagine a defense trying to cover David Reed, Jereme Brooks, Shaky Smithson and Luke Matthews at once? Now throw in 6'4" Aiona Key for size and what you have is a near certain mismatch somewhere downfield.
The Ute's just need someone who can isolate the mismatch and get the ball there.
This is exactly why this contest is coming down to Jordan Wynn or Terrance Cain, the two better passers in the competition, while Louks may very well end up as the second string, change of pace backup.
While Wynn and Cain have less experience at the D-1 level than Louks, they have at least spent the last few years running successful, high-octane offenses while Louks has been holding a clipboard.
Despite the conservative look with more of a pocket passer and featured back, Utah will still keep defenses honest by mixing the Asiata formation with designed plays for exceptional athletes; such as Devonte Christopher, Corbin Louks and Shaky Smithson. All of whom can run, throw and catch.
For now, the contest is narrowed to two. With Wynn and Cain taking substantially more reps, the Ute coaching staff will get a much clearer sense of how each will run the offense and finalize a decision within the next week or two.
If Cain wins out, I would expect Wynn to red-shirt. Wynn has a lot of promise, boasts a high football IQ, a terrific arm and a strong work ethic. I can’t envision Utah wasting a red-shirt year on a backup, especially when they already have a strong backup in Louks.