In recent late night games at Rice-Eccles Stadium, sometimes when the offense takes the pitch, the soundtrack blaring through the speakers is the song “Bad Moon Rising”.
That’s to be expected, as quarterback Cam Rising has done a lot of good things since taking the starting position in late September, leading Utah to a 44-24 victory over UCLA last Saturday and a record. of 4-1 and in first place in the Pac- 12 South ranking.
The Utes visit Stanford on Friday (8:30 p.m. MDT, FS1).
â€œHe’s a great leader. When he comes on the pitch, everyone listens to him, â€said tight end Brant Kuithe. â€œThe way he plays the quarterback is the way you want a quarterback to play. It demands excellence from everyone. Either way, he’s so dynamic and he’s a great soccer player.
It has been a remarkable season for Rising, who suffered a shoulder injury almost a year ago; worked hard to rehabilitate his shoulder; fought for the starting position with Charlie Brewer; kept a positive attitude when not named a starter and was elected team captain anyway; took advantage of his luck when he replaced Brewer in the second half against San Diego State; and was made a starter after Brewer left the program.
On Tuesday, Rising was named a semi-finalist for the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year award.
One of the other three semi-finalists just happens to be Stanford linebacker Ricky Miezan, who was limited to just seven games in his first three seasons with two late-season injuries. This season, Miezan is second on his team in tackles.
Rising completed 116 of 181 passes for 1,318 yards, with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions.
â€œCam is a guy who brings a lot of confidence to the offense and to the team,â€ said wide receiver Theo Howard. â€œWhen he comes out you know good things are going to happen because he has so much confidence in him and that projects onto the other guys. You know, as a receiver everyone is a valuable option. He will pass it on to anyone. And he’s a winner.
Rising also ran for 300 yards and three touchdowns in 38 carries as Utah recorded four straight games with over 450 yards of attack.
“Cam had another amazing night,” said coach Kyle Whittingham after the Utes’ win over UCLA.
While Rising breathed life into Utah’s passing game, it also offers another dimension due to its dynamic running ability. He scored a 12-yard TD against the Bruins.
In a 42-34 loss to Oregon State, Rising ran 10 times for 73 yards, including a 21-yard scrum.
After this match, Whittingham was worried about some of the punches Rising was absorbing while running.
â€œIt’s a learning process. We’re comfortable with Cam leading the ball because he gives us so much when he does. But he has to show better judgment at the end of the races and get some of those shots out of bounds or slipping, whatever the case, â€said Whittingham. â€œHe’s so competitive. He wants to win as much as anyone I’ve been around with. He wants to do whatever he can to help.
â€œSometimes he got into situations where you just hope he gets up because those are really big hits. Hopefully in the future we will see him continue to add that 40 to 75 yard range in the running game. But don’t take the hit at the end of the play. Be smarter and avoid this.
Kuithe said he was not concerned about Rising’s run.
â€œHe’s big enough, he just needs to slide a little more. It’s much bigger than most DBs, â€he said. “I give him the benefit of the doubt but sometimes he needs to protect himself.”
Whittingham said Rising is smart when he chooses to return the ball and run.
â€œHe made good decisions every time. What he brings to the table in the racing game is part of what makes him so effective. He is in the top 10 of the country in QBR. It’s your best barometer of how well a quarterback plays. He plays really well.
Meanwhile, last Saturday, Rising drew another weapon from his arsenal – his punt ability.
Rising had two quick kicks against UCLA. He averaged 39 on a punt and put both inside the Bruins’ 10-yard line. This may have surprised most people, but Rising has a lot of punting experience.
â€œI actually did this all the time in high school,â€ he said. â€œIt was good to get him there. It was fun.”
The Utes had blocked two punts the week before in a loss to Oregon State, so they adjusted.
â€œIt has a lot to do with it,â€ Whittingham said. â€œYou get two blocked punters and you won’t have a lot of confidence. If you get the chance to use a quick kick, especially where Cam was a punter in high school. He has a good background there.
Rising said he had practiced a few punts last week during practice, knowing that could be a possibility last week.
Will there be more quick shots in the future for Utah?
â€œWe’ll see. It certainly paid off on Saturday night,â€ Whittingham said. â€œCam was the punter for his high school team. It’s nothing new to him. Quick kicks aren’t great. A lot of it. ‘teams across the country are doing it and are having success with it. We’ll see where it fits week by week. … It’s a good weapon, especially in the age of analytics, where more and more People use it in fourth place in that 40-40 range in the fourth and short, but the quarterback needs to feel comfortable doing it.
These days, Rising feels comfortable with just about anything when it comes to helping the Utes win games.