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SALT LAKE CITY — Sophomore Tyler Huntley has been named the University of Utah’s starting quarterback.
Behind Huntley will be seniors Troy Williams, who started all last season, and then Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman. Head coach Kyle Whittingham said Saturday that the team would name a starting quarterback Monday after a three-week competition.
Huntley has made significant progress in the offseason and was pushing Williams for the starting job early on. Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor said Huntley is “almost a different guy” from how he played in spring.
“The thing that’s most evident is his decision making,” Taylor said last week. “In spring he was trying to make every play a big play. And you’ve got to learn that when you’re athletic and you’re competitive, you’ve just got to throw the ball away — live to play another down. He’s done a much better job of that. But he understands the system. As you have more success, you become more confident and then when your confidence is high, you play well.”
While many believed Williams would naturally return as the starting quarterback, Whittingham praised Huntley’s escapability, saying that he had a leg-up on the competition.
“(Escapability) is a big component of it, of the spread offenses,” Whittingham said. “The quarterback extending the game and QB-run game is a very predominant part of what we’re going to do. It’s where (Huntley) gets a big advantage.”
Huntley said earlier in camp that Taylor’s offense was similar to the one he ran at Hallandale High School in Florida. He said he felt “confident” in his ability to run the offense and has felt the game has “slowed down a lot for me and it just feels good to be out there and know what I’m doing.”
Did @Utah_Football make the right choice at quarterback?— Josh Furlong (@JFurKSL) August 21, 2017
In camp, Huntley was incredibly mobile and was difficult to tackle, while adding a strong case for being a good pocket passer. In Taylor’s offense, multiple options are available to the quarterback, keeping the defense always guessing.
“He does everything to a defense that is unbelievably hard,” cornerback coach Sharrieff Shah said of Taylor’s offense. “You have a running quarterback, you put that running quarterback back into position to pull defenders out of certain help positions and puts solo matchups on guys. He does everything you hate all in one practice.”
Although Huntley has been named the team’s starting quarterback, Williams was named a team captain for the offense last week. Whittingham said at the time that Williams being named a captain was no indication of a starting role, but an indication of his leadership on and off the field.
Whether Williams will see much playing time is currently unknown. Whittingham said earlier in camp that he wasn’t sure if they’d have specific packages available for a second quarterback. Last season, Huntley got some playing time in designed plays for him, but it wasn’t until the Foster Farms Bowl game until Huntley was able to show off his talent. Huntley rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown, and had a 36-yard completion against Indiana.
Huntley is one of three athletes from Hollandale High School that is on Utah’s starting unit on the offense. The other two, running back Zack Moss and receiver Demari Simpkins, come into the season with a starting role.