SALT LAKE CITY — Nothing seems to faze Utah’s Adam Schulz.
The quarterback from Muskego, Wis., who earned a scholarship after initially arriving as a walk-on, has confidently climbed the depth chart — all the way to top. Schulz moved into the starting role two weeks ago against Oregon after Travis Wilson was sidelined for the season when a concussion test discovered a previous injury to an intracranial artery.
As tough as making his first start at Autzen Stadium was, Schulz may have faced more challenging circumstances last week at Washington State. Two pick-sixes in the first quarter contributed to a 21-0 deficit. Schulz bounced back from the difficult start to throw for a career-high 347 yards — the most by a Utah quarterback since 2010.
The Utes pulled within one score on a couple of occasions before ultimately dropping a 49-37 decision to the Cougars.
“I was proud of the way the offense kind of stuck together,” said Schulz, who explained that he was determined not to let the miscues effect the plays that followed.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that Schulz has grown as a quarterback since taking over as the starter. He was especially pleased with how the sophomore weathered the early adversity last Saturday.
“A lot of quarterbacks would not have been able to respond from that and play the way he did,” said Whittingham, who was especially pleased with the passing yardage and the way Schulz took care of the ball after the interceptions.
It remains to seen, however, if Schulz can do enough to keep the job after this year — even with an outstanding performance in Saturday’s season finale against Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Wilson’s status won’t be known for at least three months and redshirt freshmen Conner Manning, Brandon Cox and Micah Thomas are waiting in the wings.
“We’ve seen growth in Adam. That growth needs to continue,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got some good quarterbacks in the program that are redshirting and so it’ll be very competitive this spring in that position group.”
Schulz, though, is gaining a leg up in terms of valuable Pac-12 game experience. Plus, he’s covered all the territory from walk-on to starter since joining the program in 2011. Following a redshirt season, he saw action in one game as a freshman. Schulz has played in five games this year, completing 56 of 121 passes for 775 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s also rushed for 58 yards and a score.
Becoming the starter, Schulz acknowledged, is everything he thought it would be.
“It’s hard work. It’s what you work for. You live with the ups and downs and that’s part of being quarterback,” Schulz said. “It’s great when you’re winning. When you’re losing it’s not fun at all.”
Even so, Schulz insists that all the hard work it took to get into the position he’s in has been worth it.
Utah quarterbacks: Stepping into the starting role
The Utes haven’t had a quarterback start and finish a season since Brian Johnson in 2008. Five guys have stepped into the starting role over the five campaigns that have followed.
Quarterback Seasons Starts Record
Jordan Wynn 2009-12 21 14-7
Terrance Cain 2009-10 11 9-2
Jon Hays 2011-12 12 7-5
Travis Wilson 2012-13 16 7-9
Adam Schulz 2013 2 0-2
SOURCE: Utah Sports Information Department