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Neither UO, Utes tipping hand on QB starter

EUGENE — Neither side is saying who will be at quarterback when No. 18 Utah visits No. 13 Oregon.

That means everyone is left to speculate whether Ducks senior Vernon Adams and Utes senior Travis Wilson will start today at Autzen Stadium in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

Adams, who transferred to Oregon from Eastern Washington for his final year of eligibility, sat out of last weekend's 61-28 victory over Georgia State after breaking his right index finger in the opener against his former team.

Jeff Lockie, Marcus Mariota's backup last season, made his first start and threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers.

"It's going to be similar to last week in it will be right up until the end of the week before we make that call," coach Mark Helfrich said. Or, basically, a game-time decision.

Adams said this week he hoped to start, but was noncommittal.

"I don't know. It hurts. My finger hurts but I want to be out there as fast as I can, but I don't know, maybe 80 (percent)," he said. "I don't know."

The Utes are in a similar situation with Wilson, who has a sprained left (nonthrowing) shoulder that he injured against Utah State, the second game of the season. Backup Kendal Thompson stood in for him last weekend against Fresno State, throwing for 159 yards and a touchdown in the 45-24 Utes' victory.

Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham expects to see Adams today.

"Adams fits very well into what they do. There's only one Marcus Mariota so those are very big shoes to fill. Of course, (Adams) didn't play last week, but we expect him to play this week," Whittingham said. "He seems to be a guy who understands exactly what they want to do and he has the skill set to do it, although he's not to Mariota's level yet, but who is? He is a very good athlete and a tough kid."

Other things to consider when Utah (3-0) visits Oregon (2-1):

THE BOOKER FACTOR: Utah running back Devontae Booker is averaging 115 yards with four touchdowns through three games. He ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State last Saturday, also catching five passes for 56 yards.

THE FREEMAN FACTOR: Oregon running back Royce Freeman, who was Pac-12 freshman of the year on offense last season with 1,365 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, ranks third in the conference this season with an average of 124.3 yards per game with five touchdowns.

UNUSUAL PLAY: Last year's meeting between the two teams featured one of the most unusual touchdowns in Oregon history: Utah's Kaelin Clay dropped the ball just short of a Utes touchdown on a 79-yard pass play. The Ducks recovered, with Joe Walker returning the ball 100 yards for an Oregon TD. The Ducks went on to win 51-27, clinching a spot in the Pac-12 title game.

PUT A BYRD ON IT: Utah Cornerback Cory Butler-Byrd was named the Pac-12's special teams player of the week for his 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Fresno State. Whittingham said there's a possibility that Butler-Byrd could see time on the offensive side of the ball this season.

"In fact, I can say that you will see that at some point this season. It's just a matter of Cory settling into that defensive role first. This is his first time in the program, he missed spring ball, so we want to be sure we don't put too much on his plate initially and let him grow into things," the coach said.

HISTORY: Oregon leads the series against Utah 20-8, including a 12-3 advantage at Autzen. Oregon has won the last three straight in the series. And Oregon has not lost a Pac-12 opener since 2005.