According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, it appears Utah football is changing its signal caller once more and will start Bryson Barnes against the Cal Golden Bears.
Nate Johnson, a former starter, will also continue to serve as a change-of-pace player, according to Thamel’s article on X.
Before handing the reins completely to Johnson for the last three games, Utah used a strategy remarkably similar to this one to start the season against Florida and the most of Baylor. While waiting for starter Cam Rising to complete his recovery from a knee injury, Utah has failed to move the ball consistently with the young rookie moving back to Barnes.
In 2022, following Rising’s concussion against Ohio State, Barnes made his collegiate football debut in the inaugural Rose Bowl game for Utah.
With both teams in a shootout, after the Utes jumped out to a huge lead early on in the game, the game was already gold in terms of entertainment value at that point. Barnes’ entry into the game raised the stakes.
When their leader is eliminated in the manner that Rising was, most teams tremble, but the Utes under Barnes were unfazed and wasted no time putting the Buckeyes on notice.
A legend was created despite Barnes and the Utes losing the game, 48-45, since there was too much time left on the clock for tOSU to make a game-winning field goal.
At Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah’s football team hosted the Florida Gators to kick off the 2023 campaign. Unfortunately, the Utes were without their starting quarterback Cam Rising since he was still healing from an ACL tear he had earlier in the year versus Penn State at the Rose Bowl.
Barnes made his second career start, and on the opening play of the game, he wasted no time in letting everyone know Utah would be ok under his leadership by dropping back and throwing a 70-yard touchdown pass to receiver Money Parks.
Following his participation on the squad the previous two years as a walk-on, Barnes was awarded a scholarship for his efforts as the Utes went on to defeat the Gators, 24-11.
Barnes did have a lot of difficulty versus Baylor, which led to the substitution of Johnson for the next games. However, Johnson struggled against Oregon State right before the BYE, which led to a switch back to Barnes that appeared to have some promise.
Unfortunately, Barnes was injured against the Beavers so severely that he had to go to the hospital, which raised concerns about when and whether he would be ready to play again for a depleted Utah offensive team.
For a squad that has had poor luck with injuries in 2023, Barnes being cleared to play according to Thamel is a very huge issue.