Mountain West: Utah's QB Shuffle

By Jason Owens - July 18, 2006

"We have a great quarterback. We just don't know who it is yet."

That was Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's opening statement during his Tuesday press conference. And he's right on. On a team loaded with talent, quarterback is a glaring hole for the Utes. But it's not because of a lack of talent under center.

The Utes have three quarterbacks capable of starting, and if you ask Whittingham, all three would be All-MWC candidates. There just isn't a named starter.

The big question mark is Brian Johnson, who started the first 10 games last season before injuring his knee against New Mexico. He led the Mountain West in total offense and was named second-team all-conference despite missing the last two games of the season. But if he's not ready to play, Whittingham says Bret Ratliff or Tommy Grady would both be able to handle the job.

Ratliff has already proven himself. Stepping in for Johnson last year, Ratliff led the Utes to victories over arch-rival BYU and then Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl. He earned MWC player of the week honors in the victory over BYU.

But he's sure to get pressure from Grady, a transfer from Oklahoma who Whittingham compared to a power forward. He said the six-foot, seven-inch quarterback has the best arm strength he's ever been around.

As Whittingham said, it's a good problem to have so much talent to choose from, and he plans on naming a starter by 10 days before the season opener at UCLA.

Posted by Jason Owens at 02:22 PM on July 18, 2006

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