Williams likely to start at QB for No. 20 Utah vs. Stanford
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — All signs point to Troy Williams starting at quarterback when No. 20 Utah hosts Stanford on Saturday, though coach Kyle Whittingham isn’t tipping his hand.
Sophomore starter Tyler Huntley was injured in the second quarter of a 30-24 victory over Arizona on Sept. 22. He was taken to the locker room and later returned to the sideline with his throwing arm in a sling. Utah typically does not disclose injuries unless they end a player’s season.
But Utah held its weekly news conference with Whittingham and three players on Monday and Huntley did not attend. The starting quarterback is normally made available at that session and Williams was in attendance.
“We’ll see who’s going to start on Saturday,” Whittingham said. “Everything’s up in the air. ... If Troy’s the guy, then great. We’re not overly concerned with who the guy is. (Huntley is) continuing to go through the evaluation process every day. We’ll see what transpires for this weekend.”
Williams stepped in and threw for 131 yards and ran for a touchdown against Arizona. The senior started all 13 games in 2016 for a Utah team that went 9-4. He was voted a captain by teammates in 2016 and 2017.
There was widespread surprise when Huntley was named the starter before the season.
Huntley quickly showed why he won the job — his 73.3 completion percentage ranks No. 5 in the country and his 208 rushing yards are No. 2 on the Utes. He has added a dual-threat component to Utah’s new spread offense.
The offense is not expected to undergo major changes with Williams under center. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound QB is mobile but not as electric as Huntley running the ball. There are likely to be fewer called runs for the quarterback with Williams in the game.
The former Washington quarterback threw for 2,757 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016. He completed 53.1 percent of his passes and threw eight interceptions.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” Williams said. “Especially in the area of being a pro. I feel like the situation that I’m in was put upon me for a reason. It just helped me grow and build my leadership skills. I just try to go out there and play my game. I prepare myself to the best of my ability each week, so if my name is called I’ll go in there and make something happen.”
The Utes will face a Stanford pass defense allowing 254.6 passing yards per game, tied for No. 100 in the nation. The Cardinal defense has also given up 25.4 points per game.
Utah right tackle Darrin Paulo didn’t notice any real difference when Williams entered the game against Arizona. There is a bit of an adjustment for the offensive line, however, since Williams tends to hang in the pocket longer than Huntley.
“Both have good give and takes. (Huntley) is a different quarterback. I’ve never blocked for someone like that,” Paulo said.
The Utes hope that the strong relationship between Williams and receiver Darren Carrington will ease the transition. The two have been friends since high school and Williams helped recruit Carrington to Utah after he decided to transfer from Oregon. Huntley and Carrington had a strong connection in games and the senior receiver is tied for No. 6 in the nation with 121.3 yards per game. He will break the Utah single-season receiving yards record (1,188 by David Reed in 2009) if those numbers hold up.
“You’re going to throw to the guy that gets open and Darren has a tendency to get separation and get open,” Whittingham said. “Also the quarterbacks develop confidence in guys that consistently catch the ball ... and Darren is right there among the best in the nation.”
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