Josh Furlong is an expert on the Utah Utes, so when we had the opportunity to pick his brain, we got right to it. A beat writer for UtahUtes.com and Assistant News Director at KSL.com, Furlong told us who could have an impact this season, how the offense is doing, and a little bit about Zach Moss. Check out more from Josh Furlong on Twitter @JFurKSL.
Overall, how do you believe the offense will compare to the 2018 version?
The offense, as a whole, is in good shape. Bringing back Zack Moss and two proven quarterbacks gives Utah the best opportunity at consistency. The biggest hurdles for the offensive side of the ball is replacing its offensive line and then adapting to a new scheme by a new offensive coordinator. Fortunately for Utah, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig looks to get his playmakers the ball and will do whatever he needs to adapt to the offense. Utah has the depth at most of its positions to overcome the injury bug and can seemingly hit the ground running with the bulk of its offensive staff returning from last season.
What do you expect from the QB position in 2019?
Tyler Huntley remains QB1 and there’s nothing that will change that. He’s got a good throwing motion and a good camaraderie with his receivers. He’s more patient in the pocket than he used to be and has the ability to stretch the field. He’s adding some muscle to his frame and continues to progress each season. Prior to his injury last season, Huntley was consistently beating Pac-12 defenses and putting up big numbers. I’d have to imagine he gets even better this year (as long as his offensive line can protect him). Barring injury, I’d expect big things from Huntley this season. Should Utah need to dip into its depth chart, Jason Shelley is a more than capable backup quarterback. Shelley, too, is progressing and has shown he can command a team through the Pac-12 gauntlet. Utah fans shouldn’t be too worried if Shelley becomes QB1 again.
How do you see the workload at RB being distributed?
Zack Moss. Zack Moss. Zack Moss. It’s a simple strategy and one that Utah will rely on for much of the season. As long as Moss is healthy, he’s going to get as many touches as possible. He didn’t come back to split reps with the rest of the running backs, so expect him to demand the ball more this season. In Andy Ludwig’s last season at Wisconsin, he had Melvin Gordon as his leading running back. Gordon averaged about 25 touches per game. I’d imagine Moss is going to be around that number. Moss averaged 20 touches last season, but wasn’t always the featured option in the offense — he’ll get more this season. Behind Moss, Utah has Devin Brumfield and Devonta’e Henry-Cole that will likely get some reps to replace Moss in different situations. They’ve also go TJ Green and incoming freshman Jordan Wilmore who could be used in the mix. But there’s no question that Moss will get the bulk of the reps.
How does the offensive line compare to the 2018 group?
Utah has a good group of receivers returning that will demand the ball, and that list will start with slot receiver Britain Covey, who is the shifty playmaker that makes him the easy target — he was also Huntley’s favorite target last season. Beyond Covey, Utah has a multitude of options in the wide receiver corps that will get targets before tight ends. That’s not to say tight ends won’t be an option this season. Brant Kuithe and Cole Fotheringham have been fantastic options at the position and will be great targets in the offense. But their targets will largely depend on if Utah needs them more in a blocking technique to solidify the line. Still, I’d imagine a 75-25 split in favor of the wide receivers.
What do you think the distribution will be to the WR/TE's?
There’s a handful of guys that could have a nice impact this season. Many are backups on the depth chart now, but could get some significant minutes this fall. Most have the potential to lead their position group eventually. Solomon Enis is a sophomore receivers and has been a part of the starting rotation. Now that Enis has adjusted to the speed of D-I ball, he’ll be a viable threat. Sophomore receiver Jaylen Dixon got some minutes at the end of the season last year, but will only increase his visibility this year. He’s a proven speedster that can go get the long ball to make impact plays for the team. Running back Devin Brumfield is still young, but he’s shown good amounts of power in his position. He’ll be fighting a loaded depth chart, but he’s a talent up-and-coming back. Some other receivers to watch: Terrell Perriman and Bryan Thompson. Perriman is a redshirt freshman, so he still has some things to learn in the position, but he’s a natural and could pick it up fast. Thompson was hampered by injury last season but should have a breakout season this year.