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Utah QB Tyler Huntley needs ‘a miracle’ to play in the Holiday Bowl, Kyle Whittingham says

Jason Shelley is likely to make his fifth straight start as the Utes meet Northwestern.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley (1). Utah Utes host the Oregon Ducks, NCAA football at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday Nov. 10, 2018.

San Diego • Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley’s return to the field in Monday’s Holiday Bowl “would take a miracle,” Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said Sunday.

During his appearance at a news conference with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, Whittingham labeled Huntley's case “by all definitions, a game-time decision.”

Asked after the formal session about who would make that call, Whittingham said the school’s medical staff would determine whether Huntley was ready to absorb hits, eight weeks after his collarbone was broken in a Nov. 3 game at Arizona State. Huntley has practiced for three weeks and has looked good lately, but “there’s a difference between ‘function’ and all that, and taking shots,” Whittingham said.

That’s when Whittingham clarified that Huntley’s being cleared to play would “take a miracle — a couple miracles, maybe.”

Utah has listed Huntley as a co-starter with Jason Shelley, who replaced him for Utah’s last four games in November – wins over Oregon, Colorado and BYU and a 10-3 loss to Washington in the Pac-12 championship game.

Huntley and Shelley both have said throughout December that they're preparing for a starting role Monday, although Huntley consistently said he would accept medical advice about not playing, knowing he has a senior season ahead in 2019.

Senior linebacker Chase Hansen has a “minimal chance” of playing, Whittingham said, due to an undisclosed injury. Many NFL draft prospects have announced this month that they are skipping bowl games for health reasons, but Hansen has not declared himself out of the Holiday Bowl. He has played in all 13 games this season, after missing last December’s Heart of Dallas Bowl with accumulated health issues.

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