After fending off the Florida Gators without star quarterback Cam Rising and dangerous pass-catching tight end Brant Kuithe, the latest Utah injury update provides negative news for Utes fans ahead of their trip to Waco to face the Baylor Bears.
Utah Injury Update: Cam Rising, Brant Kuithe
According to sources close to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Utah quarterback Rising is not expected to play against Baylor. Additionally, tight end Kuithe will be in street clothes for the game against their soon-to-be in-conference foe. Kuithe travelled with the team but won’t suit up Saturday.
Rising’s status brings to an end an uncertain week for the man who led the Utes to consecutive Pac-12 championships.
“He’s cleared for all practice activities, no restrictions whatsoever,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was quoted by Josh Furlong of KSL Sports as saying earlier in the week, raising the possibility of a return to action. “It’s just how he feels and how the injury is feeling after, you know, X amount of days of work.”
Whittingham was also quoted by Furlong as saying that Rising was “doing good things and progressing nicely.”
However, during an appearance on ESPN Central Texas, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune expressed his doubts over a Rising comeback. Walden said he believed it was unlikely that the Utah quarterback would make his season debut for the Utes against Baylor in Waco. That now appears to be the case.
Rising has been pivotal in Utah’s Pac-12 success for the past two seasons. The dual-threat quarterback has thrown for over 20 touchdowns in both title-winning campaigns while adding almost 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, he has compiled over 2,400 passing yards in each of those two seasons.
In Rising’s Week 1 absence, Utah turned to Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson to guide the Utes past Florida. Barnes led the way with the majority of the offensive snaps, completing 66.7% of his 18 attempts for 159 yards and one touchdown. The former walk-on also tallied 11 yards and a score on three carries.
Former four-star dual-threat Nate Johnson also saw some action in the win over Florida, proving particularly dangerous on the ground with a 27-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter allowing Utah to stretch their legs over their SEC foe. Johnson was less impactful as a passer, completing 75% of his four attempts for just six yards.
With Rising not expected to play, Barnes will take the start for the Utes. However, there will be a package of plays allowing Johnson to showcase his dynamic dual-threat ability in a game where Utah are the favorites for the win.
Utah Tight end Kuithe out
Veteran tight end Kuithe is one of the best pass catchers in the game, and Utah fans were excited to see him form a dangerous dup with Dalton Kincaid last fall. However, a torn ACL suffered in the fourth game of the season against Arizona State, curtailed what was expected to be a draft stock-propelling season for the star playmaker.
During his Utah career, Kuithe has tallied 1,882 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. A unique athlete in many respects, he’s also been used as a threat out of the backfield during his time in Salt Lake City, tallying 17 rushing attempts for 162 yards and four touchdowns. He’d racked up 206 receiving yards and three scores at the time of his season-ending injury in 2022.
After spurning the NFL for another go around with Utah, it was believed that Kuithe would be ready to go for the 2023 college football season opener against Florida.
However, he was absent from the roster for the 24-11 win over the Gators, and head coach Whittingham refused to comment on his injury status during the week leading up to the game.
With Kuithe absent for another week, expect Utah to feature rising star Thomas Yassmin in the passing game.
Although the 6’5″, 252-pound tight end only snagged three receptions for 15 yards in the season opener, he’s just one year removed from putting up 301 yards at 23.2 yards per catch and reeling in six touchdowns as the understudy to Kincaid in Kuithe’s absence.