I just know when to make a play with my feet. I know when to make a play with my arm. —Tyler Huntley
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s new starting quarterback describes himself as a playmaker.
"I just know when to make a play with my feet. I know when to make a play with my arm,” said sophomore Tyler Huntley, who won the job after a camp-long competition with seniors Troy Williams and Cooper Bateman.
Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor explained that it was “a very difficult decision,” adding that the 25th-ranked Utes could win with all three. The hard part, he continued, was telling two of them that they wouldn’t be the starter.
Taylor said that Huntley, Williams and Bateman were so close in areas like decision-making, leadership, knowledge of the offense, accuracy and progression.
“All those things are really important,” Taylor continued. “Tyler just brought a little bit more in the run game and his ability to make plays with his legs.”
Taylor, who is in his first season as Utah’s offensive coordinator, made the final decision. He said that the process covered the duration of camp and that Huntley eventually separated himself a little bit.
“I don’t know the exact moment, but, over the last week, I felt pretty good about him being the guy,” Taylor said.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged empowering Taylor to make the call and he agreed to go with the decision.
“I think Tyler has got a lot of upside,” Whittingham said. “He’s very athletic.”
However, Whittingham emphasized that it was an “intense competition” and it “was neck-and-neck” with very little separation.
“With Tyler’s mobility and the upside that we think he has, that’s the direction we went,” he said.
Huntley was praised for becoming a guy that is working within the framework of the offense rather than improvising. He played in just four games as a freshman while backing up Williams.
Whittingham downplayed concerns about demoting a quarterback who led the Utes to a 9-4 record in 2016.
“You’re always looking to get better. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Troy. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Cooper Bateman, for that matter,” Whittingham said. “But you’ve got to go with who wins the job, and Tyler edged them out and it’s only fair. I mean, if you beat a guy out, you beat a guy out.”
The quarterbacks were informed of the pecking order following Saturday’s camp-ending scrimmage. Williams is the backup and Bateman is No. 3.
Williams, who started all 13 games for Utah in 2016, also spoke with the media after practice. The former Washington quarterback noted that the situation is nothing new to him. He’s been through it before.
“You can’t break me no matter what you do to me, with what you tell me, no matter what it is,” said Williams, who added that it’s going to build even more fire in him and he’s determined to keep grinding.
Williams, though, isn’t sure what he needs to work on at this point.
“I felt like I had a great camp. I felt like, you know, I was doing everything I was supposed to do,” he said. “But, you know, things didn’t really fall in my place.”
As for Huntley, Williams pledged his support.
“I don’t wish nothing bad upon Tyler. I hope he goes out there and does his thing,” Williams said. “But when my number is called I’m going to make sure I’m ready.”
The two-time team captain vows to own up to his leadership role despite starting the season as the back-up to Huntley.
“It’s always team first,” Williams said.
Huntley has a similar attitude. He plans to compete and work every day to make himself and the Utes better.
Although Utah’s season opener against North Dakota isn’t until Aug. 31, Huntley is raring to go.
“I’m, for sure, ready to play tomorrow and our team is ready to play tomorrow, too,” he said.
In the meantime, there’s time to polish things up. Huntley plans to continue doing what put him on top of the depth chart.
“I just worked all through camp and took it day-by-day,” he said.
Huntley noted that he’s feels comfortable in Taylor’s offensive scheme and has just come out and executed.
“I’m able to make a lot of plays in this offense and this offense just gives me a lot of opportunities to make a lot of plays,” said Huntley, who explained that he’s matured as a player since last season. “I feel like I know where I’m going with the ball and I know when to take my shots and when not to.”