Utah backup QB Bryson Barnes opens Florida game with 70-yard TD

LIVE BLOG: The No. 14 Utes defeated the Florida Gators 24-11 on Thursday night.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) scores a touchdown as the Florida Gators host the Utah Utes in an NCAA football game Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Salt Lake City.

Bryson Barnes was already a Utah football folk hero.

If he keeps this up, he’ll be bigger than that.

The former walk-on, starting in place of senior Cam Rising, didn’t bother playing it safe on his first play back from scrimmage. The Milford High star went to Money Parks for a 70-yard touchdown to put the Utes up 7-0 early at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Barnes may be the most unknown of the Utes’ quarterbacks. But as our columnist Andy Larson pointed out this week, he’s fine with a deep ball.

If you don’t know Barnes’ story yet, check out this profile ahead of last year’s Rose Bowl.

Final: Utah 24, Florida 11

Kyle Whittingham and the Utes are without their starting QB.

But they got their revenge.

The Utes defeated the Florida Gators, the first SEC opponent to visit Rice-Eccles Stadium, 24-11.

Quarterback Cam Rising didn’t match up, but backups Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson shared the duties leading the Utes to victory.

“This team has a lot of talent,” Whittingham said. “The next man mentality. Couldn’t be more proud of them. Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson did what they had to do. It wasn’t pretty in the end there; We let them in again. But we won. Go to the next one. “

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The Gators cross the goalline

Florida finds the end zone in the fourth quarter. Graham Mertz found Caleb Douglas for a 19-yard score, capping a 13-play drive with 6:54 left.

After the two-point conversion, it was 24-11 with 9:22 to play.

Florida faults proliferate

First, the Utes pinned the Gators deep.

Later, Utah safety Zion Walkey completes a tip drill.

Finally, it’s Bryson Barnes’ turn to show off his wheels.

24-3 early in the third quarter.

Halftime: Utah 17, Florida 3

A Cole Becker 51-yard field goal gave the Utes three more points in the second quarter. But Utah may have bemoaned its missed opportunity: A trick play by wide receiver DeVaughn Whaley brought Micah Bernard down the sideline.

Either way, the Utes took the lead at halftime.

In his television interview, head coach Kyle Whittingham expressed his happiness with his backup quarterbacks so far.

“They both do a good job of taking care of the football. Nate does what we’re hoping for with the run game. We’ll probably have to get him involved.”

On that opening touchdown: “We’ve opened pretty conservatively the last several years, so we thought we’d change that this year.”

The bad news: Whittingham said Karin Reid’s second-half return is “doubtful”.

Nate breaks one

Nate Johnson promised.

and presented by Nate Johnson.

The redshirt freshman quarterback broke off a 27-yard run for the Utes’ second touchdown of the game. It’s a score the Utah Gators can thank: two players during a ball no. They were flagged for wearing 3 jerseys, giving the Utes their first loss.

Credit MUSS

Twice now, the Gators have had false-start killing drives. Both times, they were at the south end of the stadium.

The Utes were able to keep Graham Mertz on the third down, and then MUSS did its job to help the false start.

Crucially, the Gators kicked a field goal to the right.

Still 7-3.

Q1: Utah 7, Florida 3

The Gators led the way in the first quarter as Jonah Ellis was sacked. But Florida threatened again as the quarter ended. Florida QB Graham Mertz looks like he’s getting more comfortable — especially since Utah’s star linebacker Karen Reed is sidelined and reportedly has a head injury.

Bryson Barnes will start for Utah

For a while now, it looked like Game Rising would be a long shot ready for the Utes’ season opener. So far, backups Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson have been on the field during warmups.

(Eric Walton | The Salt Lake Tribune) With Cam Rising still recovering from ACL surgery, backup quarterbacks Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson were key figures on the field during Thursday night’s warmups at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Rising and tight end Brandt Kuythe, who are not yet eligible for full practice, are both in street clothes at the stadium.

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A great roar

The U. put a seismic probe in Rice-Eccles Stadium tonight and it hasn’t disappointed so far.

How to watch Utah vs. Florida

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fans line up as the Utah Utes arrive to face the Florida Gators in NCAA football Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Salt Lake City.

Tonight’s game is on ESPN and streaming on WatchESPN.

If you’re looking for more information on this matchup between the Utes and Gators, we’ve got you covered.

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