Utah QB Tyler Huntley is having fun again, and it’s showing more and more

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) with the touchdown as the University of Utah hosts the Arizona Wildcats at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Friday Oct. 12, 2018. Utah leads 28-0.t

He came here regarded as a guy who could do it all, a guy who could add dimension after dimension to the position. And it wasn’t necessarily an if, but more a when. So when the coaching staff tabbed him as the guy a year ago, what was then viewed as a stunning move; it was a move to develop in real time.

There were glimpses of the ceiling. There were glimpses of adjustment. There were glimpses of the lows.

But with Tyler Huntley, there’s always a shot for some magnificence. On any individual play, the now-junior quarterback can do the unconventional and dance in celebration afterward, as seen last week in the win at Stanford, chucking a deep ball, an eventual touchdown, while being dragged to the ground.

With Huntley, though, it’s always been about those nights when he can put it all together at once, and how often he can make them his own. The arm strength. The elusiveness. The straightaway ability in the open field. Commanding the opposition’s respect in the RPO game. For the first few weeks of this 2018 season, offensive coordinator Troy Taylor was searching for the best blueprint, to not only suit his once-average group, but to get the absolute best of his quarterback.

This is not breaking news. More a repeating of a proclamation. They’ve found it. They’ve found the approach. They’ve got No. 1 firmly back on track. In Utah’s 42-10 win over Arizona Friday night, Huntley’s array of abilities were the reason the Utes just ran away from the Wildcats from the outset. He uncorked one of his best passes at Utah in the second quarter, a pinpoint 68-yard touchdown strike to Demari Simpkins in the middle of the field.

“It’s just a blessing to see everybody just clicking on one level,” Simpkins said. “Everybody’s playing top-notch, and the offense is looking really good.”

Huntley finished 14 of 19 for 201 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception, the one blemish on his stellar night. On the ground, he had 11 runs for 64 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s just great to see him have success,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He works so hard. He’s just a fierce competitor.

He ran, he threw, he even snagged a ridiculous touchdown pass.

That will be the lasting memory of the dominant fall evening inside Rice-Eccles Stadium: Huntley scampering free down the sidelines, unlocked from coverage after Zack Moss tossed a pass back to Britain Covey, allowing the former high school QB to uncork a pass to his guy with the arm. Huntley rose up, grabbed it, out-ran the Arizona defensive backs, and 58 yards later, he was untouched into the end zone.

“It was pretty tight,” Huntley said.

That score would put Utah up 35-0 in the third quarter. To commemorate the moment, Covey reached back in his imaginary quiver and loosed a celebratory arrow into the night sky. On point. For a second week in a row, Utah’s offense, led by Huntley, was once again revelatory compared to where it stood just a month ago. So much of it has centers on Huntley, and this groove he, the offense, and Taylor have worked their way into now.

“We just stuck to the plan and trusted the plan,” Huntley said. “We executed good and that’s what happens.”

After all, how often does a QB throw, run and catch for a touchdown in a game? Just so happens former QB Troy Williams did it last year at USC when Huntley was out with an injured shoulder. Doesn’t make it any less impressive, nor does it slim the hope suddenly rising higher and higher for the weeks ahead.

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