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Utes still looking to establish a 1-2-3 at quarterback

SALT LAKE CITY — According to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, the Utes still have options at quarterback.

“We’ve got three guys that we think can get in there and win games for us,” he said after Saturday’s scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium. “But, right now, we’re still 19 days out. Fortunately we have a little bit more time to keep sorting through this.”

However, Whittingham then acknowledged that sometime in the near future a hierarchy between Troy Williams, Tyler Huntley and Cooper Bateman needs to be defined.

Although Whittingham said they’ll need to grade the film in order to get a “completely accurate evaluation” of the situation, he felt all three quarterbacks came in and did good things. As such, there continues to be very little separation.

“We want to get to one as soon as we can,” said Whittingham, who added that, at the same time, things are reduced from three to two to a 1-2-3 pecking order is going to be established.

“So we’ll know who the top guy is that’s going to get a majority of the reps; the No. 2 guy that gets what’s left over; and the No. 3 guy that doesn’t get much at all,” he explained.

The quarterback situation, Whittingham said, may be as good as he can recall.

“I would have to say yes. We’ve got three guys we think we can win with, and I don’t know if we’ve ever had that in the past.”

Williams, a senior, started all 13 games last season despite being slowed by an injured knee. Whittingham acknowledged it prevented him from showing the full effect of his abilities to run the ball.

“He’s completely healthy right now,” Whittingham said.

Huntley, a sophomore who saw action in four games in 2016, has escapability that Whittingham said could weigh heavily. He explained that it’s a big component in the age of spread offenses and quarterbacks being able to extend plays. The QB run game, the coach added, is going to be a very predominant part of what Utah’s offense is going to do under new coordinator Troy Taylor.

“That is where he gets a big advantage,” Whittingham said of Huntley.

And then there’s Bateman, the graduate transfer from Alabama. Whittingham insists the former Cottonwood High star remains in the competition.

“He is. Every time he gets an opportunity, he does something good, and so he’s in the mix,” Whittingham said. “He’s behind the other two, but he’s working hard and he’s showing great progress.”

Taylor was more evasive about the situation in the immediate aftermath of the scrimmage. He said all five quarterbacks in the program performed well.

“They all played great,” Taylor replied when asked if any separation has taken place.

Frontrunners Williams and Huntley both felt that the offense took a step forward. William, in fact, referred to it as a big leap.

“I feel like we did a great job the whole day and gave the defense a lot of work,” he said. “We just continue to see the offense, you know, continue to grow.”

Williams thought everybody brought intensity and some energy. There was attention to detail and assignments. When it comes to Taylor’s offense, Williams indicated that he understands it completely well. His whole objective is to make it simple for everybody.

Taylor, he continued, has done a great job with the installation, and that everybody understands it and is picking it up.

Williams expressed confidence that he’ll be able to make more plays with his legs this season. It’s been his big point of emphasis. Concerning himself with which QB is doing better today or tomorrow isn’t.

“I just try go out, be myself every day, just try to lead my team, and be consistent,” he said.

Overall, Williams noted that Utah’s offense is going to be very dangerous and has a “pick your poison” situation with the receiving corps.

Huntley also had positive things to say.

“It was a good day for us as a team. We got better and we just worked on more situations and stuff,” Huntley said. “It went very good for the whole team.”

Huntley isn’t worried that a decision has yet to be made on a starter as the Aug. 31 season opener against North Dakota approaches.

“I just come out every day and try to give it my all — just knowing that anything can change at any point and time,” he said. “So I just come out with the mindset every day to just work.”

Huntley is confident the coaches will come out and make the best decision.

“At the end of the day that’s their choice,” Huntley said. “And we’re just going to go with it.”