Utes sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley said this week that his shoulder injury in the Pac-12 opener against Arizona set the offense back this season, an admission that came in the wake of a loss against Washington State that featured three interceptions and one fumble by the first-year starter.
Utes first-year offensive coordinator Troy Taylor acknowledged the injury set Huntley back, but Taylor also said he has seen progress and still sees room for growth from Huntley.
Taylor compared Huntley to a true freshman getting his first significant experience at the college level. Prior to this season, Huntley had played in four games and thrown seven passes for the Utes.
Huntley missed almost three full quarters against Arizona, plus games against Stanford and USC, and he didn’t practice for three weeks prior to being cleared the week leading into the Arizona State game.
Taylor made the decision to go with Huntley as the starter over returning senior starter Troy Williams in preseason. Taylor will also have the task of assessing Huntley’s overall performance at the end of this season.
“I’m always evaluating him and how he’s playing, where he is emotionally and all those things,” Taylor said. “I guess at the end of the year, I’ll just kind of see how he finished and if he progressed. I feel like he’s progressed, and there is a little gap there that he didn’t practice. He didn’t do anything.
“He has progressed since coming back against Arizona State. It’s almost like starting over a little bit. But I think he’s gotten better and he’s doing some good things. Lots of room for improvement, but he’s got a lot of the intangibles and the tangibles that make a good quarterback.”
DB guru passes
Freshman defensive back Jaylon Johnson, a resident of Fresno, Calif., is mourning the death of his former coach Tony Perry, a local legend in the Fresno area who had a reputation for helping mold talented defensive backs.
Johnson joined several former pupils of Perry’s by posting messages on social media about Perry with the hashtag “DBGURU” over the weekend.
“For him to pass kind of hurt, knowing that I can’t go home and see him and talk to him again,” Johnson said on Monday. “It’s just something I’ve got to get used to.”
Johnson considered Perry a mentor. Perry ran summer 7-on-7 camps in the Fresno area and also served as an assistant at several area high schools. He also coached Johnson’s older brother Johnny when he was in high school.
“He just said you’re the best, and he just instilled that in you to believe in yourself,” Johnson said. “When you believe in yourself you can do anything, lock anybody up.”
Kicker Matt Gay made his fifth field goal from 50 yards or more on Saturday against Washington State and became the first kicker in program history to make five field goals of 50 yards or more in one season. He’s also the only kicker in the country this season with two field goals of more than 55 yards. Gay goes into this week leading the NCAA in field goals made (22) and field goals made per game (2.33).