SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – So how many times has Utes quarterback Cam Rising been asked around town if he’s going to start Thursday in the season opener against Florida?

“Enough times,” Rising said with a smile. “Enough times. I’m about done, but we’ll find out on Thursday.

Asked if he avoids going to the grocery store so he doesn’t have to hear any questions, Rising said, “Yeah, I usually get a Door-Dash.”

Rising has been limited for most of training camp as he recovers from off-season ACL surgery. But he had a smile on his face after practice on Monday.

“I’m feeling pretty damn good right now,” Rising said.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham said last week that a decision on the starter might not happen until ten minutes before kickoff.

“Ten minutes, maybe seven,” Rising said. “You never know.”

Either way, Rising’s questionable status doesn’t affect his preparation for the game one bit.

“It doesn’t do a damn thing,” he said. “I’m preparing just the way I would any other game.”

If Rising can’t make the start, he has all the confidence in backups Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson.

“They’ve been doing a great job,” Rising said. “Coach Ludwig has put them in a position to make them successful, and they’ve done everything they possibly can to help the team go in the right direction.”

Last year, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson tore the Utes up with 106 yards rushing and three touchdown. But he is now the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. Enter Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz, who has experience and talent.

“We’ve watched a lot of his Wisconsin film,” said Utes safety Cole Bishop. “He did some really good things. He’s got a really good arm. He’s still a duel-threat guy. He’s obviously not Anthony Richardson in that aspect, but he can still run the ball and escape.”

“They had a lot of designed run plays for the quarterback last year,” said linebacker Karene Reid. “I’ll be curious to see if they do that again, I’m not sure. But the arm is definitely there.”

Last season, Mertz threw for 2,136 yards, 19 touchdowns and ten interceptions for Wisconsin. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound junior will be making his first start for the Gators.

“He’s a good player, but a lot different style than the quarterback we faced last year,” said Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Richardson was a guy that was just a tremendous athlete. This year’s guy is more of a thrower, more stay in the pocket.”

The Utes offense definitely didn’t play up their capabilities in last year’s 29-26 loss to Florida, in which Rising threw an interception in the end zone in the final seconds. Tavion Thomas also fumbled the ball the goal line in the third quarter.

“We just didn’t execute as an offense as we should have,” said wide receiver DeVaughn Vele. “We left a lot of points on the board. We could have finished some drives. We had a couple goal line stops, and obviously the interception was a heartbreaker.”

As the first SEC ever to come to Utah, this game has added historical significance. Utah is also riding a 14-game winning streak, and hasn’t lost at Rice-Eccles Stadium in front of fans since September of 2018.

“I had no idea that was the case,” Reid said about an SEC team coming to Utah. “Hopefully we can show them what Utah is all about while they’re here.”

“I think our environment is great,” said Vele. “We have that home winning streak right now, and we’re hoping to keep that going. Obviously it’s hard to play at Rice-Eccles Stadium, especially with the elevation and the crowd noise.”

#14 Utah and Florida will kick off the season Thursday night at 6:00 p.m.