If Utah senior quarterback Troy Williams made his last start in Saturday’s loss to USC, he went down with touchdowns passing, rushing and receiving about a half hour up the road from his hometown of Carson, Calif.
Whether or not Williams gets another start depends on the health of sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley, who did not travel with the team this past weekend. For the first time since suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder against Arizona on Sep. 22, Huntley appears poised to return to practice.
“Every week that goes by he gets healthier and closer to being cleared,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said of Huntley during his Monday news conference. “Like I said last week, from this point on it‘s just day-to-day until they say yes or no. Every day is a yes or no, he can practice today or he can’t. So far it’s been no, no, no, no, no, no, all the way. There’s no yeses yet.”
Whittingham’s comments came mid-day Monday. Later that afternoon, Huntley spoke to reporters for the first time since his injury.
“I’m going to start moving my way into practice and start getting the reps back,” Huntley said.
Most of the players on the two-deep depth chart only worked out on Monday. Tuesday would likely be the first opportunity for Huntley to return to the field in a practice setting.
“We’re just going to take it day-by-day, rep-by-rep,” Huntley said. “However I’m feeling when I’m in there getting the reps, that’s [what] we’re going to go off of and we’re just going to go from there.”
Huntley said he’d been throwing a ton on the side, hasn’t experienced much soreness, and he still feels he has the same zip on his passes as before the injury. Huntley also insisted he would not change the way he previously played or become more hesitant.
“Not at all,” Huntley said. “There’s not going to be no hesitation or tippy-toeing. That’s why we took these weeks off, just to make sure when I do go out there it’s 100 percent. We’ll make that right decision and know that when I go back out there it’ll be 100 percent.”
Wide receiver Darren Carrington II came into this past weekend leading the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game, but he had his lowest output of the season against USC with just two catches for nine yards. He had a pass glance of his hands in the first quarter that could have converted a third down for the Utes.
While giving no specifics, Whittingham revealed that Carrington played hurt against USC.
“Darren, he was hurting this week,” Whittingham said. “He’s got some ailments going on and wasn’t himself, but [he was] tough enough to be out there and contribute to the extend that he could.”
Wishnowsky honored by Pac-12
The Pac-12 announced Monday that Utes punter Mitch Wishnowsky had been named the conference’s special teams player of the week. Wishnowsky, a junior from Perth, Australia, averaged 46.8 yards per punt on six punts against USC, and he had three punts downed inside the USC 20-yard line including two downed inside the 10-yard line.
Drews done for season
Whittingham confirmed that senior co-captain Christian Drews suffered a season-ending injury against Stanford two weekends ago.
Drews, a walk-on linebacker during his first three seasons, earned a scholarship this past spring. The California native played in 13 games each of his first three years and played in five this year, almost exclusively on special teams. Drews posted on Instagram this past weekend that his career had ended, but that he lived his “dream.”
Smith, Gross set for Crimson Club honors
Former Utah and NFL stars Steve Smith Sr. and Jordan Gross will be part of a seven-member class inducted into the Crimson Club Hall of Fame this weekend and introduced during halftime of the Utah-Arizona State game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Smith, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, played 16 seasons in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens. He finished his career with 14,731 receiving yards, seventh-most in NFL history. Gross, an offensive tackle, earned consensus All-American honors as a senior in 2002. The Panthers selected him with the eighth overall pick. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and spent 11 seasons as a starter before retiring after the 2013 season