- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah will have a new full-time starting quarterback for the first time in four seasons this year and the competition could go well into camp.

The three-man race was led by junior Troy Williams early in the spring before he suffered a shoulder injury that ended his session. Williams was the No. 1 dual threat quarterback in the country coming out of high school and played five games for Washington in 2014 before the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder transferred to Santa Monica College for the 2015 season.

Junior Brandon Cox (6-2, 205 pounds) has spent the most time in the Utah program, but has played just one game.

Freshman Tyler Huntley (6-1, 190 pounds) is also in the mix and the 2015 Florida Gatorade Player of the Year took significant strides after Williams was hurt.

Coach Kyle Whittingham said the job is going to come down to two things.

“Who’s going to give us the best chance to win immediately, and who’s going to give us the best chance to win ultimately?” Whittingham said. “Because who gives you the best chance to win Game 1 may not be the same guy that gives you the best chance to have the best season you can possibly have.

“We’ve got to get that sorted out as quickly as we can. We’re not putting a timeline on it other than certainly the drop dead week would be the week leading into the season opener. But we’re hoping we can get that thing sorted out before that time, and it’s just going to play itself out. … They’ve got to separate themselves on the field. But it’s going to be of huge importance to us, making sure we get the right guy.”

KEY GAMES: If the Utes are serious about crashing the playoff party, they first must defeat BYU on Sept. 10. Utah needs to be 3-0 coming out of nonconference play.

The Utes were ranked No. 3 in the country with a 6-0 record before losing at USC 42-24 in 2015. This time Utah hosts the Trojans on Sept. 23.

Arizona and Arizona State are a combined 7-1 against Utah since it joined the Pac-12 in 2011. The Utes are 0-11 against the Sun Devils dating back to 1977. The Wildcats host Utah on Oct. 8 while Arizona State travels to Salt Lake City on Nov. 10.

UCLA was picked by the media to win the South Division and Utah hosts the Bruins on Oct. 22.

HELP WANTED: Not only will the Utes be breaking in a new quarterback, but they lost the top receiver from an already weak position group.

Britain Covey was a pleasant surprise as a freshman with team highs in receptions (43), yards (519) and touchdowns (four), but he’s now gone on a Mormon mission.

Utah needs 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior Tim Patrick to deliver after missing 16 games due to injury over the last two seasons. Speedy Cory Butler-Byrd switched to receiver after primarily playing cornerback last season but he has been suspended indefinitely.

TRENCHES: The Utes’ strengths lie along both lines.

The defensive line should be one of the better units in the country with Lowell Lotulelei, Kylie Fitts, Hunter Dimick and Filipo Mokofisi.

The offensive line returns four starters and adds five-star junior college transfer Garett Bolles.

PREDICTION : The preseason media poll had Utah No. 3 in the South Division.

SEASON OPENER : Utah hosts Southern Utah on Sept. 1. This is the first time the two teams have met on the gridiron. The Thunderbirds went 8-4 last season while the Utes are 37-0 against Big Sky teams.

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