PAC-12 Wynn-Less Utes Looming Large in Salt Lake City

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PAC-12 Wynn-Less Utes Looming Large in Salt Lake City
Harry How/Getty Images

The Utes biggest question heading into the 2011 season was the health of starting QB Jordan Wynn

The good news is that his surgically repaired right shoulder has held up so far. Sure his throwing motion is a little different than last year, his accuracy has been questionable at times and the ball seems to lack the "zip" it had in the past, but he has looked better and better each week. 

The bad news is that he injured his left non throwing shoulder against Washington last week and is said to be out for two to three weeks at least. 

So now that we know Wynn is out, what and who is ready to step in? 

Well that is part of the problem.  Jon Hays, who finished the Washington game when Wynn was out, seems to be the lock for the the starting nod.  The only reason Jon Hays came to Utah was because the school he was supposed to play football at this fall, Nebraska-Omaha, disbanded their football program leaving Jon without a home. 

So, can the JUCO transfer who found himself homeless step up and play at this level?  His numbers were solid, 10-16 and 156 yards, one TD and one INT against Washington.  Granted, a bulk of that came in mop up time when the Utes were down 31-7. 

Hays looks like he has an arm and displayed some toughness and determination while running the ball.  The offense may have to go with some new looks (spread option possibly) to fit Hays' playing style. 

But the real question will be can Jon Hays lead a team and make good decisions in game situations.  He threw one pick, his second throw of the night, and had a careless fumble on a later possession.  Fans may have to trust the coaches on this one and be patient while Hays is thrown to the Sun Devils and is forced into a steep learning curve.

The depth behind Hays is where this gets real dicey. 

Tyler Shreve is listed as Hays backup.  Shreve, a freshman, battled with Griff Robles (more on him later) in spring practices for the backup spot to Wynn before Hays joined the team.  Shreve is a bigger QB with a power arm, which is the main reason he beat out Robles.  While he can throw missiles, he has problems with accuracy and decision making.  This is why Hays gets the nod over Shreve. 

While Shreve shows some promise for the future, he lacks game experience at any collegiate level.  If Hays goes down, the show could get very interesting.

Can the Utes beat Arizona State without Jordan Wynn?

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Behind Shreve are two other freshmen walk-on QB's, Daniel Kessler and Adam Schulz.  If the Utes get this far into the depth chart they could be in real trouble.  On the Utes roster there are multiple other players who were actually recruited to the U as QB's only to find themselves in other positions. 

Most recently, Griff Robles lost his potential back up spot to Tyler Shreve in Spring practices and was moved to LB.  Robles did not have much of an arm and was utilized as a running QB the year before.  Similar to the wildcat, everyone knew when Robles came in the game what was going to happen. 

Devonte Christopher was recruited to play QB as well but with his speed and athleticism he was moved to WR where he became the Utes most prolific threat last season. 

Could the Utes throw in a couple "wildcat" type packages with Christopher taking the snaps?  Also on the team, Brian Blechen was recruited as a QB but was moved to the defensive side of the ball where he excelled last season as a safety and has had a great season so far playing the LB position.

Bottom line is the Utes have a roster filled with QB's but are left without a single QB who has Division 1 experience. 

Jon Hays needs to pick up a team that is desperately searching a win in conference play.  Jordan Wynn needs to come back this season and stay healthy if the Utes want to think about going to a bowl this year.  The Utes need to recruit more depth at the QB position.    

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