The UCLA football team is coming off a near-shutout performance against North Carolina Central and will turn its attention to an offense that poses questions at quarterback during the week.
Utah quarterback and Newbury Park alumnus Cam Rising missed the first three games of the season, after suffering an ACL injury he suffered during the Rose Bowl game against Penn State in January.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told local reporters last week that “he’s day to day.”
“We are under the direction of the medical staff,” Whittingham said. “(The surgeon is) the one who is the ultimate thumbs up or thumbs down guy to play.”
Famed Los Angeles-based sports doctor Neal ElAttrache is Rising’s surgeon and will make the final decision on whether the quarterback plays this week.
ElAttrache recently worked on New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles and is the head physician for the Rams and Dodgers.
While the Utes continue to await this week’s decision on ElAttrache, Rising was already back practicing with the team last week without limitations.
“I have a lot of respect for Cam Rising,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “I think he’s an incredible competitor. We have played against him before. He has long been one of the best quarterbacks, not only in this league but in the country.
Rising led the Utes to back-to-back Pac-12 Conference championship seasons. The Bruins will prepare for Rising as if he is going to play and believe that if he plays, he will be “the complete version” of himself.
The defense will also be prepared for Nate Johnson, who started at quarterback for the Utes’ game against Weber State.
“He might be one of the fastest quarterbacks in the country,” Kelly said of Johnson. “He was a 100-yard (runner) here at Cal State and he was very active, but he can also throw the ball really well. … They have more of a package with him than with Cam, so you have to prepare for everything.
The last time the Bruins played Utah, they were without starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who was questionable throughout the week but ultimately missed the 2021 game due to an injury. he suffered the previous week against Oregon. Ethan Garbers made his first start for the Bruins that week.
Garbers is still with the Bruins, but true freshman quarterback Dante Moore has started the last two games for UCLA.
Kelly is still undecided on naming a starting quarterback, saying he wants to see how the week progresses before making that decision.
“Two years ago when we played that game against Utah, Alec Anderson was our starting tackle all week and then was declared out on Friday morning, so that’s one of the reasons we don’t know not who’s going to start on a Monday.”
Cornerback Jaylin Davies made his first start of the year Saturday in place of Devin Kirkwood, who had receivers backing him up on potential explosive plays against San Diego State.
Davies recorded no tackles in the North Carolina Central game that featured 101 different Bruins, including Kirkwood, who had a solo tackle.
“I thought Jaylin did a really good job, but you guys throw yourself into starters more than we throw into starters,” Kelly said. “We rotated a ton of players and I know he wasn’t the one who played the most in the secondary in that game. Who takes the first snap of the game is irrelevant in our minds.
BACK TO ACTION
Offensive lineman Siale Taupaki made his return against North Carolina Central after missing most of last season with an undisclosed injury.
The senior played against Bowling Green and Alabama State before the injury. He also missed the entire 2021 season.
“He played about 19 or 20 snaps and did a good job in his first extended period,” Kelly said. “We will continue to monitor him. … We’re excited for him and I know how hard he worked to come back and play, so it was cool to see his hard work pay off.
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