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Utah’s Tyler Huntley is being pushed for the Heisman. He won’t win, but his numbers are pretty amazing

SHARE Utah’s Tyler Huntley is being pushed for the Heisman. He won’t win, but his numbers are pretty amazing

Utah Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) looks for a receiver as Utah and UCLA play a Pac-12 football game in Salt Lake City at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — On Wednesday, the University of Utah released a video promoting quarterback Tyler Huntley as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Let’s get this straight right up front. He is not going to win the Heisman Trophy this year. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is going to win. That is, barring a couple of 0-for-30 passing performances and upset losses by his top-ranked team.

The Tigers’ senior is not only having an outstanding season, he is also playing for the No. 1 team in college football. Every college football expert has him as the clear leader and his numbers this year are off the charts. Even though the ballots haven’t been sent out yet, you can book Burrow as the winner when it is announced in New York on Dec. 14.

His biggest competitor, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, is out for the season with a hip injury. Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Ohio State’s Justin Fields are both having outstanding years, but can’t match Burrow’s numbers.

On any other year, Utah’s Huntley would legitimately be in the running for Heisman consideration.

His numbers might be better than any quarterback in the history of the state. Yes, even better than BYU’s Ty Detmer in his Heisman Trophy-winning year in 1990 and better than Alex Smith, the Utah quarterback who finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2004 when the Utes finished with an undefeated season.

Passing by the numbers
Player Comp. % Yards per comp. Pass eff.
Joe Burrow, LSU 78.60% 13.76 202.7
Tyler Huntley, Utah 74.20% 15.46 190.1
Alex Smith, Utah (2004) 67.50% 13.79 176.52
Ty Detmer, BYU (1990) 64.20% 14.36 155.9

Huntley is currently completing 74.2% of his passes, second best in the country, which would smash the Utah record of 68.6% set by Lee Grosscup in 1957 when he only threw 157 passes the whole year. Smith’s percentage was 67.5 in 2004 and 65.0 in 2003. Detmer’s completion percentage in his Heisman Trophy-winning season was 64.2.

In passing efficiency, Huntley ranks No. 5 in the country at 190.10, which is well ahead of Smith’s 176.52 mark in 2004 and Detmer’s 155.9.

In passing yards per completion, Huntley is No. 7 in the country at 15.46, again well ahead of Smith’s school record of 13.79. Detmer averaged 14.36 yards per completion in 1990.

Huntley has only thrown 13 touchdown passes with just one interception, compared to Smith’s 32 and 4 interceptions from 2004. It’s a far cry from Detmer’s 45 touchdown passes in 1990, but he also threw 28 interceptions that season.

As great as Huntley’s numbers are this year, check out Burrow’s.

He’s No. 1 in the country in completion percentage at 78.6%. In passing efficiency, he’s No. 3 at 202.70. Only in passing yards per completion is Burrow behind Huntley at 13.76.

If you go by total yards and touchdown passes, where Burrow has 3,687 and 38, Huntley (2,397, 13) is left well behind for a couple of reasons. 

The Utes run the ball more than most teams in the country with just 34.8% of their offensive plays being passing plays. Compare that with LSU, which passes 50.8% of the time and Alabama, which passes 50.1% of the time.

Also, the Utes have won their last six games by an average of 29 points, meaning Huntley has rarely played in the fourth quarter of Utah blowouts, which has cut down his total numbers.

“I’ve said it for weeks now that in our opinion and in the opinion of the nation, that Tyler is an elite player, an elite quarterback,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “His complete dedication and immersion in the details of what he’s doing and his preparation is outstanding.”

Utes on the air

No. 7 Utah (9-1, 6-1) at Arizona (4-6, 2-5)

Arizona Stadium — Tucson

Saturday, 8 p.m.


Radio: ESPN 700AM