Bleeding Red: QB slot still Huntley’s after Utes spring football

The red and white played once again
Throwing around the old pigskin
Though some say it was just spring ball
Say what you will, it’s still football!

COMMENTARY – Let’s be honest – you’re not going to learn much from the spring football game. Many players are intentionally held out to avoid injury. Not all the players are even on campus that will be here playing in the fall. Teammates are playing against teammates in a glorified scrimmage that can’t quite replicate the intensity of a real game. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a fun experience for both fans and players.

utesThe biggest question going into next season is who will be under center?

Sure, Tyler Huntley is the presumptive starter going into his junior year after starting each game last year when he was healthy enough to do so. But wasn’t Troy Williams the presumptive starter going into his senior year last year after being the starter the prior year as a junior?

What about Jack Tuttle? The highly touted freshman out of California who graduated early from high school so he could enroll in school early in order to participate in spring ball? The quarterback who was waiting at the airport to welcome Britain Covey home from his mission even though the two had never met? Could he unseat Huntley the same way that Huntley had unseated Williams?

And then there’s Jason Shelley, the redshirt freshman from Texas who is a true dual-threat quarterback and already has a year under his belt in learning the system. Could he be the surprise starter?

St. George News columnist Dwayne Vance (left) interviews Utah offensive coordinator Troy Taylor | Photo by Josh Vance, St. George News

For now, it appears that Huntley remains ensconced as the starter. “Tyler has had an exceptional spring,” noted offensive coordinator Troy Taylor, in confirming Huntley is currently projected as the starter.

So how do Tuttle and Shelley stack up against each other in the battle for second? “Depending on what day you talk about, Jack will have a great day, Jason will have a great day,” explains Taylor. “I think it’s a dead heat right now for the number two spot.”

One thing is for certain: Regardless of which quarterback starts the first game, there is no guarantee they will remain healthy and otherwise hold on to the starting job for the entire season. The good news is that Utah has some real depth and quarterback that should allow it to weather whatever storms may come over the course of the season.

Regardless of who is calling the plays in the huddle, the Ute offense should be much more explosive next year. “Obviously, we lost some good guys,” concedes Taylor. “But I think we have a little bit more depth. I think the guys have a better understanding of what they’re doing, and then we’ve got some more guys that are going to be coming that I think can help us.”

Taylor specifically called out Britain Covey (who is home after serving an LDS mission) as someone that has already proven he can flourish in Utah’s offense. “And then Solomon Enis coming in is a talented guy. He’s raw, but he’s really talented,” continued Taylor. “And then Terrell Perriman is a guy we are excited for too.” Don’t forget about Thomas Yassmin, the rugby player out of Australia who is about the size of Rob Gronkowski but even faster.

Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) celebrates after scoring on a rushing touchdown against Indiana during the first half of the Foster Farms Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

In the rout of West Virginia in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, we got a sneak peak at the true potential of this offense. It has taken some time to implement. And the inexperience of last season’s squad, especially the offensive line, was a limiting factor for the offense. However, the offense we saw rack up 30 points against the Mountaineers is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The base of the offense has been the same thing I was running at Folsom High School,” explains Taylor. “But we always evolve, we always get better. There will be definite little twists and things that we can improve upon.” Taylor is also optimistic about the offense going into next season. “We’ve got a more experienced team, so we can do more things”

So, what about the defense? Kyle Whittingham remains to be the head coach – enough said. Okay, maybe a few brief comments are warranted.

Whittingham may be the head coach, but his fingerprints continue to be all over the defense. Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley played for Whittingham and the two are in lockstep when it comes to maintaining the high level of play that has become customary for Utah defenses. Next year should be no different. No need to rebuild, the Ute defense simply reloads.

Here’s hoping the dog days of summer don’t stay too long so we can get back to football as soon as possible!

Bleeding Red is a sports column written by Dwayne Vance. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • commonsense April 17, 2018 at 6:49 am

    I went up to Salt Lake to watch the scrimmage and the defense looks awesome. Gary Anderson’s footprint is noticeable. Aggressive blitzing and pass rush from the edge were lacking last year. The secondary is the best in years with great athletes and depth. It’s going to be fun year.

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