Raelon Singleton might be able to shake free from cornerbacks but not from a question that has persisted the first two weeks of the season. Family and friends back home in Crosby, Texas, tune into games, look at the box scores online and are befuddled.
Just four receptions?
Just 18 total yards two games in?
“I tell them the situation and stuff,” Utah’s 6-foot-4 junior wideout said. “They probably don’t understand it at the time, but it’s going to work. It’s going to come.”
That’s his message. The Utes, now 2-0 and adjusting to life with their new quarterback and new offensive system, haven’t even teased to their full potential. A day after Tyler Huntley said Utah has displayed roughly 30 percent of the playbook, Singleton nodded heavily in agreement.
“We haven’t even opened it up all the way,” he said. “There’s a lot more coming on the way.”
Which demands patience not only from Utah’s skill players on the perimeter and in the backfield, but also the fans packing the stands or tuning in at home. Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor’s new offense has its orchestrator in Huntley. That’s crystal clear. The 19-year-old sophomore has 686 yards of total offense on his own in two games.
UTES’ EARLY OFFENSIVE LEADERS
• 929 yards of total offense
• QB Tyler Huntley has 686 yards of total offense —527 passing, 159 rushing
• WR Darren Carrington II 256 yards receiving on 17 catches, which is 34 percent of the aerial attack
• Other starters: Raelon Singleton (4 catches, 18 yards) and Demari Simpkins (3 catches, 8 yards)
• Sophomore WR Siaosi Wilson (7 catches, 119 yards) leads team in yards per catch with 17
He’s zeroed in on a preferred target early in the season in Oregon transfer Darren Carrington II, a revelation for Utah’s spread offense in need of a clear No. 1 option. Carrington’s start in red hasn’t failed to live up to the hype. He has 256 yards receiving on 17 receptions. The last Utes wideout to have back-to-back 100-yard receiving games was Dres Anderson in 2013.
The last one to have at least 130 yards in back-to-back outings? Steve Savoy in 2004.
Carrington’s emergence is necessary, but ask around and you’ll hear Utah knows it must diversify its offense heading into its final nonconference game of the year this Saturday against San Jose State.
“Right now I think we’ve done a pretty good job of moving the ball,” redshirt freshman receiver Samson Nacua said, “but I think as an offense, we could definitely spread the ball out more and spread teams out more.”
First and foremost, Nacua said, it’s on the receivers to create space and give Huntley a window to locate and fire into. Whatever he sees, Nacua said, Huntley will hit. Utah receivers coach Guy Holliday said he’s seeing the benefit of his implemented culture change in that position group. Utah, he said, now has several players wanting to shoulder the load.
“Everybody wants to be the guy,” Holliday said. “Everybody wants to have the ball. Well, to do that, you’ve got to prove it.”
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he expects Carrington’s banner start to the year to carry into Pac-12 play. And Whittingham isn’t concerned with Carrington getting most of the early season looks. Utah’s next-closest receiver, Siaosi Wilson, has 119 yards on seven receptions.
“As long as we get the yards we need, it doesn’t matter who it’s coming from,” Whittingham said. “It’s kind of like the running back. It doesn’t matter if it’s two guys getting 75 yards each or one guy getting 150. You’d like to keep everybody involved just to keep defenses honest.”
As advertised, Taylor’s spread attack moves with ease when it’s clicking. Utah has 929 yards of total offense in its wins over North Dakota and BYU. Which is even more impressive considering how the Cougars were able to stifle Utah running back Zack Moss last weekend in Provo.
To provide further balance, Whittingham said he’d like to see the running game rediscover its Week 1 form.
“Troy Taylor is going to call what is working,” he said, “and so if we are going to give the ball to our backs, they have to run with more violence and be productive.”
The reality that Utah’s offense has been as productive as it has in its infancy stage — and has more room to grow — is a testament to Taylor’s hiring, Huntley’s appointment and the talent level that appears to be rising on that side of the ball.
“As an offense,” Huntley said, “we’re still feeling the game out.”
Holliday said he’s eager to see how the entire receiving corps responds.
“I’ll tell you: If you’ve ever been in a receiver room, everybody knows how many balls were caught,” he said. “It’s the same way if you ever play on a basketball team. Everybody recognizes who‘s scoring. Not to say that people watch stats, but of course, you want to compete to be the best.”