A roar went up from every corner of Rice-Eccles Stadium when Tyler Huntley took the field with the Utes offense for the first time in almost a month. The noise wasn’t just palpable, it was audible.

Then reality sunk in as Huntley’s return failed to produce a revival for the Utes’ offense. Huntley struggled so mightily that it begs the question: Did Huntley’s return do more to hurt than to help?

“He’s still not 100 percent, but we felt going in that he gave us our best chance to win,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. “That’s every decision you make, it’s based on what gives you the best chance to win. That’s what we determined.”

Asked if Huntley is still his starting quarterback, Whittingham said there’s “no way to answer that question right now.”

Huntley, the sophomore quarterback, wowed with his playmaking ability with both his legs and his arm in the first three games of the season. The first-year starter suffered a shoulder injury against Arizona in the Pac-12 opener, and he’d been sidelined since.

In light of back-to-back losses, albeit by a total of four points, there seemed to be a sentiment among Utes fans that Huntley’s return would provide a necessary jolt. Some might even have argued that his presence might have changed the outcome of the previous losses.

Huntley, facing a defense which had two interceptions in six games, completed 19 of 35 passes for 155 yards with four interceptions. His fourth interception, which came with the Utes down 23-3 in the fourth quarter, got returned 20 yards for a touchdown.

Huntley game-by-game

North Dakota

Passing: 23 of 32, 227 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.

Rushing: 18 carries, 70 yards, 2 TDs


Passing: 27 of 36, 300 yards

Rushing: 19 carries, 89 yards, 1 TD

San Jose State

Passing: 30 of 43, 341 yards, 4 TDS, 1 Int.

Rushing: 14 carries, 53 yards


Passing: 8 of 9, 98 yards, 1 TD

Rushing: 5 carries, minus-4 yards

Arizona State

Passing: 19 of 35, 155 yards, 4 Ints.

Rushing: 8 carries 34 yards

The Utes’ 10 points were their fewest since scoring nine in a loss to UCLA in 2015. They managed 265 yards of total offense, and their longest play of the day was 17 yards.

“We did that,” Huntley said. “We did that. Nobody else didn’t do that. We did that as a team. All of us. All that just came out, missing assignments, not making plays, and that’s what happened.”

Huntley showed no obvious signs of his injury hampering him. His throwing arm did hang limply at his side for a moment immediately after getting hit on his arm in mid-throwing motion late in the first half. The next play he tossed an off-target throw up the sideline for his second interception of the first half.

Huntley didn’t want to use his shoulder or his lack of practice time in recent weeks as excuses, and he repeatedly came back to the offensive mistakes as the reason for the poor showing.

“Missed assignments, that’s all it was,” Huntley said. “Wrong assignments.”