Scott G Winterton,
Utah Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) delivers a pass on the run as Utah and Washington State play a College football game at Rice Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017.
I expect to start in the bowl game. I felt pretty good. Today was like the first day of practice, so it felt good to be out there. —Tyler Huntley

SALT LAKE CITY — Tyler Huntley is expected to be Utah’s starting quarterback in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26. The sophomore, who missed last month’s regular-season finale against Colorado with an undisclosed injury, plans to be taking the snaps when the Utes face West Virginia.

“I expect to start in the bowl game. I felt pretty good,” Huntley said. “Today was like the first day of practice, so it felt good to be out there.”

Huntley hasn’t played since the Washington game on Nov. 18. He acknowledged that the lengthy layoff has been beneficial.

“I definitely relaxed, got better and healed,” he said. “And now I’m back out here.”

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the time off has been a positive, essentially letting him get back to 100 percent healthy.

“It’s nice. He’s the second-leading total yardage gainer (302.9 yards per game) in the Pac-12,” Whittingham said. “Troy Williams did a terrific job in Tyler’s absence and if anything goes awry Troy is right there ready to roll.”

Whittingham declined to say if both Huntley and Williams would play in the bowl game. As of now, though, Huntley is poised to make his 10th start of the season.

“Well, he looks good right now,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got 12 days out, so barring unforeseen things, I would imagine that will be the case. But we’ll see.”

Although Huntley saw action in last year’s Foster Farms Bowl victory over Indiana, he’s looking forward to making his first career bowl start.

“I expect it will be a great environment to play in,” said Huntley, who added his desire to go out there and get a win.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Troy Taylor was a bit guarded when asked about the situation, deferring specific questions about Huntley’s health to Whittingham.

“But, you know, if Tyler can play and he’s ready to go, he’s our quarterback,“ Taylor said.

Senior Troy Williams, who stepped in for the injured Huntley and made starts against Stanford, USC and Colorado, has a similar outlook.

“Tyler is looking healthy right now,” Williams said. “He looks like he’s ready to go, so I’ll just stay ready like always.”

Utah has practiced four times in preparation for the bowl game. Whittingham said the Utes will be on a three-day on, one-day off schedule the rest of the way. They’ll head to Dallas on Dec. 21 and practice there the next day,

As for Christmas, Whittingham said he hasn’t thought that far ahead.

“We’ll do something really cool, though, I’m sure,” he noted. “But I’m not sure what it is.”

*****

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Utah (6-6) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 11:30 a.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: ESPN 700AM

Email: dirk@deseretnews.com

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