The Chronicle’s View: Alex Smith should lead the U offense Thursday night

Saturday night was an exciting time for college football fans, particularly University of Utah fans…for a few minutes, anyway. The excitement of the fourth quarter comeback staged by the Utes was quickly deflated they were unable to convert a two point attempt to tie the game. The bad news: The Utes lost. The worse news: Starting quarterback Brett Elliott was hurt on the final play.

In a last-ditch attempt to get into the end zone and complete the two-point conversion, Elliott dove head-on into the oncoming Texas A&M linebackers. The collision left Elliott with a broken wrist, and the U football team without its starting quarterback for four to six weeks.

The injury to Elliott leaves U head coach Urban Meyer with the decision as to whom will be Elliott’s replacement. The choice is between Alex Smith and Lance Rice.

The most appropriate choice seems to be sophomore Alex Smith. While Rice does have more overall experience, Smith is the future of the U football program.

With the U in a transition of eras, it is vital that the team look to the future. By giving time to the young Smith now, the U will benefit from gained poise and experience for years to come.

By no means would such a decision affect the performance of the team negatively. Smith has shown great potential and is a talented asset to the team. Against Utah State, Smith went 5-for-7 for 86 yards, with two touchdowns.

Smith also seems to fit well into the new offensive scheme introduced by coach Meyer. He has perhaps the best arm strength of any of the U quarterbacks and will be able to air the ball out well within the offense.

University of Utah football continues to gain momentum with the season underway. Numbers for the overall attendance at the home opener were among the highest the U has seen. The student section has now become a rowdy collage of muss. It is crucial that the current trend continues.

The excitement surrounding U football will continue if Smith is to take the helm. There is no reason to suppose that the program is in danger of losing its existing momentum.

Thursday night, when the U takes on the California Golden Bears, much will be the same. Fans will still be able to buy hot dogs and Coca-Cola during the game. There will still be a sea of fans sporting red and cheering thunderingly. There will still be tailgating and socializing before the game. And after the well disciplined and highly talented home team defeats the foreign invaders, we will all sing the school fight song and revel in victory together.