The QB Battle Begins

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The QB Battle Begins

Chris Ayers

Chris Ayers

Chris Ayers

By Carra McManamon

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Changes to the offense can seem like a daunting task, but the University of Utah football team is taking things with stride, and the team is excited about what’s in store for the future.

One notable fight going on is the quarterback battle among last season’s starting quarterback, junior Troy Williams, backup sophomore Tyler Huntley and senior Cooper Bateman, a graduate transfer from Alabama.

Williams and Huntley have been splitting the reps at 40 percent a piece, and Bateman has been receiving the other 20 percent. A graduate of Cottonwood High School, Bateman knew coming back to Utah wasn’t going to be an easy task, especially with Williams already establishing himself as the starter in 2016. At the same time though, he saw an opportunity he didn’t find at Alabama.

“I knew I wasn’t coming into a great situation,” Bateman said. “But you know, you can only work for it.”

New offensive coordinator Troy Taylor is pleased with the strides each quarterback has made during spring camp.

“They’ve played really well,” Taylor said. “Both [Williams and Huntley] have played well and Cooper did a good job, too. I’m really pleased with how the quarterbacks have played.”

Execution and consistency are the two main things Taylor looks for in a quarterback. He noted that being able to perform in both practice and scrimmage situations is vital to the team’s success.

Williams is embracing the change on offense, and he is excited to see his offseason work pay off. With a lot of pressure to install the new offense, he said that Taylor does a great job of keeping things light and reminding them to just have fun.

“I feel great out there running the ball,” Williams said. “I’ve been working hard this offseason, just trying to continue to keep that up and try to stay as healthy as possible.”

According to Taylor, the Utes have only installed about 25 percent of the new offense that the Utes will be running this upcoming season, and the QB-run game will be a huge part of that new offense.

Although they still have more to learn, Williams likes what he has seen, and he is excited about the potential this team could harbor.

“We have a real explosive offense here,” Williams said. “We have all the pieces, we just need the right type of program and the right type of scheme to fit our guys, and I feel like we’re doing that so far.”

That potential explosive offensive will be returning sophomore Zack Moss, junior Armand Shyne and sophomore Devonta’e Henry-Cole in the running back position. Sophomore Siaosi Wilson and junior Raelon Singleton saw glimpes at wide receiver this past season, and Troy McCormick has made the switch from running back to mainly wide receiver this offseason.

With all those returning players, Williams is excited about how everything is going to come together, and he thinks everyone has been stepping up their game.

“Installing the new offense and being able to sling it almost every play, keeping the defense on their heels,” Williams said. “They expect a pass almost every play, so we give it to one of our backs and they break it up the middle for a big run.”

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