No. 10 Utah loses safety Chase Hansen for the season
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) The quarterback-in-waiting for No. 10 Utah was lost for the season while playing safety Saturday.
Coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday that redshirt freshman Chase Hansen is done for the year after he injured his lower left leg during the final play of the 34-23 win over Washington. Hansen made his first start at safety Saturday against the Huskies and led the Utes with 11 tackles.
''It's a shame,'' Whittingham said. ''He played lights out in this game. He was just phenomenal with his play. A setback for us but it's next man up.''
Whittingham didn't know if Hansen would require surgery, but the former four-star recruit who first began taking snaps at safety about a month ago is expected to be ready for 2016.
The 2011 Utah high school player of the year was signed as a quarterback and was expected to be the starter under center for the Utes in 2016. Whittingham said Hansen will start next year but the position will be determined later.
''I don't think it'll have any impact on that decision,'' Whittingham said. ''Me and Chase will sit down. Last week I said we're going to let Chase decide and he said we're going to let coaches decide - we'll be on the same page.
''Bottom line is he's going to be on the field somewhere for us next year and whether it's quarterback or safety or whatever, he's going to be a starter and we've just got to make the determination in the offseason what we're going to focus on.''
Hansen was actually in the preseason quarterback competition. Four-year starter Travis Wilson won the job and senior Kendal Thompson is the backup. Whittingham made the decision to get Hansen's elite ability on the field one way or another. Whittingham said he runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and has NFL athleticism.
Hansen was a dual-threat quarterback who threw for 3,066 yards and 38 touchdowns and ran for 1,404 yards and 16 touchdowns as a high school senior.
The Utes now move senior Tevin Carter back to safety, where he started the first eight games. He had moved to linebacker with Hansen getting more time at safety. Carter had some issues in pass coverage during the season, but is known for his physical play.
Jason Thompson is also expected to see an increased workload at safety.
Carter is ''kind of a tweener,'' Whittingham said. ''Half linebacker, half safety. I just think it's really the coverage aspect that he needs to continue to work on. Because he's got the run defense down. He's a very physical player in the box.''
The Utes (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) are at Arizona (5-5, 2-5) on Saturday.