Tyler Huntley the lead in backup quarterback race


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SALT LAKE CITY — In a return to normalcy, the defense again reigned supreme. University of Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said it was an "A plus" for effort level and competition. The No. 2 defense was better after a difficult practice that saw them torched by both quarterbacks.

"The twos are coming along, making baby steps," said Whittingham. "A lot of guys have never played at this level, and it's a learning experience for them."

As far as ongoing position battles, the head coach said the depth chart was almost set.

"It's probably 90 percent settled," Whittingham said. "Still, you can never get comfortable. You've got to play at a level that warrants your spot."

A matter of focus for the coaching staff is still establishing pecking orders and backups in the following areas:

The quarterbacks

Perhaps the biggest revelation Thursday came with Whittingham stating true freshman Tyler Huntley was taking the lead at the No. 2 spot behind transfer Troy Williams.

"Tyler Huntley is a little bit ahead. He's taken most of the reps with the twos, and that's where we stand right now. It's not a done deal, but right now the pecking order is Troy Williams one, Tyler Huntley two, and Brandon Cox three."

Whittingham said Huntley's making fewer mistakes, and the coaching staff's concern is "making his game better and making himself a more complete quarterback."

The wide receivers

"Kyle Fulks is No. 1, Demari Simpkins is No. 2," said Whittingham. "Kyle Fulks is much improved over last year in his ability to catch the football. He's made a lot of progress in that regard. He's catching it much, much more consistently than at any point since he's been here.

The defensive line

The University of Utah's deepest position group isn't without its battles. It appearsLeki Fotu has earned a spot, at least for the time being, backing up at defensive tackle. Competing with him for time at backup tackle on the defensive line are senior Pasoni Tasini and sophomore Alani Havili-Katoa.

A true freshman, Fotu is adjusting to the difference of playing tackle after lining up at defensive end in high school.

"I'm still trying to get used to the technique, staying low because I'm so tall for a defensive tackle, keeping my pad level," he said.

Movie day

Whittingham said the players would get the chance to take in a movie while the coaching staff reviewed and graded the practice. "What were the choices?" someone asked.

"Something called suicide something or other and the new supremacy movie," said the coach, proof it's not time to leave his day job, no matter how many offers he's received to become a movie usher.

Stephen Lindsey is a student at the University of Utah, working as an intern with KSL.com in Salt Lake City. Contact him at th3sl3@gmail.com or interact via his twitter handle, @th3sl3

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