I've got to admit, I was pretty surprised at yesterday's news. I expected if Corbin Louks trailed off a bit, Terrance Cain would get the nod because he is obviously the safer choice. The coaches, on the other hand, think differently and have decided to peg true freshman Jordan Wynn as the current starter heading into the 2009 season.
It's a move that is extremely high risk, but also offers far greater reward than the other two options if it pays off. Of course, that's the big unknown at this point - whether Wynn will prove to be worth it. If he doesn't, this moment might handicap Utah throughout the 2009 season and could ultimately hinder the growth most fans expect heading into what could potentially be another 2008-like season in 2010.
Because of the possibility, Wynn being named the top-quarterback has generated a lot of buzz around the nation. Rightfully or not, this has thrust the Utes back into the national spotlight, as the media, local and beyond, try to really decipher what this means for Utah football.
Now the implications of the decision involving Wynn won't be known until the season fully gets going. But that shouldn't stop us from speculating, especially with the season less than a month away.
For starters, what does this mean for Louks? It's very possible he decides to leave the program, since he clearly expected to be named the starter throughout spring and fall camps. This we know because he said as much in interviews and not making the cut - and being forced to third on the depth chart - just might be what it takes for him to leave the program. We won't know for a bit, but his own remarks suggest he's looking at every possibility.
If Louks stays, I do think his role on the team would be an expanded form of what we saw last year - using him to shake things up a bit on offense, especially in the spread formation. This is why many expected him to be the starter, because offensive coordinator Dave Schramm openly discussed going back to a more spread option-like offense similar to what Rich Rodriguez ran at West Virginia.
However, that isn't going to happen with Wynn at quarterback. Not to say it won't happen down the road, but it appears he's more a Brett Ratliff than an Alex Smith - though there have been comparisons to Smith and if true, he might be far more adaptive to the spread option.
Which means the transition on offense actually might go a bit easier, since the Utes haven't really ran a true spread option since 2005 (and even that was a bit watered down). With Asiata to fall back on and the possibility of Louks coming in to run the option portion of the spread offense, Wynn will certainly have some foundation to work on and that ultimately could help in his progression throughout the season.
If this is the case and Wynn does step into the role with minimal issues, the long-term result will most definitely prove the ends justified the means and the risk was well worth it. If he does struggle and Utah drops 4 or 5 games (yikes, maybe even more), there will be some questions the coaching staff will have to face - especially if Wynn is the major reason behind the problems.
This is why I'm not sure what to make of this news. I won't ever question the decision of the coaches until it proves to not work, but I also don't buy into the blind faith argument - at least until I see some results. There is a reason Utah will be joined by Michigan and USC as the only three programs in the nation this season to start a true freshman at quarterback. It doesn't happen much because it's very difficult to step out of high school and onto the football field in front of 45,000 (or more) screaming fans. The experience gained by even sitting out a season and surveying things from the sidelines as a redshirt are invaluable to many quarterbacks. Just look at Kellen Moore of the Boise St. Broncos. He was a RS freshman last year, led his team to an 11-1 record and has them as the preseason favorite to bust the BCS this year.
Would he have done that had he not redshirted in 2007? Maybe, but I think the possibility of regression and struggles are higher than what he saw because of that one year on campus.
Regardless of all of this, though, Wynn very well may be the best candidate for the job. It's not his fault Louks failed to separate himself from the other two quarterbacks and it's logical to assume if Louks couldn't do that, then he probably wouldn't amount to anything as a quarterback. But as it is with all of this, we just don't know. We can only speculate and hope.