Who should be the trigger man for the University of Utah? Who should line up under center? Who should be the Utes' starting quarterback? Those are the questions running around through Utes Nation lately. Head coach Kyle Whittingham has been tight-lipped about who he'll trot out on that first offensive series in Corvallis, Ore, but speculation among fans abounds.
Utah has had years of drought at the quarterback position. The Utes had injuries like crazy (possibly due to poor O-line play), and the team really didn't have guys that were Pac-12 caliber athletes at the position. I am happy to report that is no longer the issue. As far as depth, it is likely that Utah has some of the best depth in the nation at the quarterback spot. This is well known to Utah fans, so now the question is: What do we do with them?
Wilson (58-of-101 for 788 yards with seven touchdowns) is tall (6-foot-5), athletic, gritty, and strong. He can throw the ball a mile, and he is a faster runner than people think. Wilson is also a guy that often throws the ball too hard or tries to stuff it in to windows that are too small (although he is infinitely better at this than he was last year).
Wilson seems to be well liked by his team, with some saying he "has the locker room." So off the field, Wilson appears to be a leader.
On the field, Wilson got severely face-burned at Michigan, and when he was next up at UCLA, he seemed tentative and appeared to pull the ball down too fast. Is this some form of quarterback PTSD, or was he seeing things that no one else saw?
Thompson (24-of-39 for 284 yards with two touchdowns) is fast on his feet. He throws the ball smoothly and lightly (sometimes too lightly). He appears to make good decisions, and he is a much more elusive runner than Wilson. I don’t think he has the arm strength that Wilson does, but he also does not appear to have the "PTSD" that Wilson does either.
Thompson is well spoken, agile, appears to be thoughtful and intelligent. He is certainly still getting to know the offense, as he is a transfer, and this may be why we haven’t seen a vast variety of plays from him yet.
Thompson seems to maybe go with one or two check-downs, and then he either makes a pass or he runs. But when he runs, it’s a good thing. Wilson runs like a fullback, Thompson is more like a Barry Sanders-type back (not quite as good as Barry, but similar finesse).
Wilson appeared to be a veritable genius in the first two games. Receivers were open, passes were on target and caught, and Utah routed the competition. Thompson came in and looked worse than third-string quarterback Brandon Cox at times.
At Michigan, Wilson got his famous rug-burn and has not looked the same since. Thompson threw a quick pick-six and we all thought, What just happened? But then he came back and drove down the field like it was a golf course, and he was the cart.
However, against UCLA, Wilson looked like the transfer and Thompson looked like the veteran. Thompson was not overly flashy, but he was decisive, deliberate, and... oh yeah... he beat then No. 8 UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
Wilson has the better arm but with the way the receivers have dropped the ball lately, the Utes could have Joe Montana, John Elway, and Troy Aikman and Utah's receivers would still drop the ball. So who do you trust? If the receiving corps keeps playing like they have been, it’s an easy decision. Go with Thompson.
Thompson is not shell shocked like Wilson seemed to be after the Michigan game. Thompson has "It". Whatever the hell "it" is, he’s got it. He is calm, cool, and collected. He could make another check down. He could throw the ball just a little harder on the deep passes, but (and I hate to say it again) if the receivers continue to be unreliable, none of that matters. So for the record, I say go with Kendall Thompson, because Thompson will keep the play alive with his feet and will get yards. And then the Utes need to get this quarterback situation figured out before they get into the meat of the schedule, which includes Oregon and USC.
Who's your favorite to start against Oregon State? Let us know in the comments section.