Brad Rock: USC’s Sam Darnold will be Utes’ first date with premier QB

LOS ANGELES — At Utah, the quarterback situation is fluid. Tyler Huntley, the undisputed leader, is questionable for Saturday’s game at USC, thanks to a shoulder injury.

“Tyler is day-to-day,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said this week. “If he’s ready to play, he’ll play. If he’s not, he won’t.”

You don’t say.

Troy Williams, the backup, is coming off a poor performance, causing Whittingham to reopen the quarterback competition. Third-stringer Cooper Bateman — who has been unable to secure the starting spot at either Alabama or Utah — is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Troy is the starter right now, but if the opportunity came up to play, yeah, I’d be excited for sure,” Bateman said.

There are no such starter issues in LaLa Land. The QB is Sam Darnold, a Heisman candidate and projected No. 1 NFL draft choice.

“He’s fantastic. A terrific quarterback — among the best in the country,” said Whittingham. “He has the whole package, the whole skill set.”

In their sixth game of the season, the Utes will get their first test against a premier quarterback. Last year Darnold threw for 253 yards and no touchdowns in a loss to the Utes. This year he has been good — the Trojans are 5-1 — but below last year’s level, having thrown 12 touchdowns but nine interceptions. His 143.2 quarterback rating is well below last year’s 161.1.

Once upon a time, the Utes had designs on Darnold and offered a scholarship when he was a high school sophomore. Whittingham claims he was the first coach to make Darnold an offer. But that was when Utah was fairly new to the Pac-12. Once USC entered the picture, reality set in.

In the here and now, the Utes have to figure out how to contain Darnold. Though he has been less effective this year, his skills have not …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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