Utah Utes must see better passing game for championship-caliber 2017

Utah used a stout defense and ground-based attack on their way to a 9-4, 2016. Add in a potent passing attack, and the Utes could be in playoff contention.

Utah football finished up its third straight nine-plus win season in 2016. Head coach Kyle Whittingham has seen the Utes rise from the bottom of the Pac-12 and into a consistent winner. However, during that time, he hasn’t had a world-beating caliber of quarterback.

In 2016, it was again the case with Troy Williams. The dual threat Washington transfer showed many flashes of brilliance through course of the season, but he failed to consistently perform at a high level.

William’s numbers and play throughout the season resulted in 2,757 yards, 15 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He also added 235 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. However, when you dissect his season to individual games it’s a roller coaster. He recorded five games where he completed under 50 percent of his passes. In three of the Utes’ four losses, he didn’t play particularly well.

Williams completed just 24-of-43 passes for 266 yards and zero touchdowns in a 28-23 loss to Cal. Cal’s defense gave up 42 points per game and allowed 245.4 passing yards per game. They were one of the worst defenses in the NCAA, and he failed to take advantage of that. He also completed under 45-percent of his passes in losses to Washington and Colorado.

As much as I harp on his inaccuracy and erratic play at times. He also made clutch plays throwing the game-winning, 18-yard touchdown against USC with 16 seconds left. He also threw the go-ahead touchdown against Oregon with just over two minutes left.

Williams completed eight games without an interception and four games with multiple touchdown passes. He did a lot of great things, and his senior season could be much better. He’ll need to be better seeing as he lost three of his top four wide outs and his starting running back. Williams has younger weapons, but they are role players in comparison to what the offense lost.

Luckily for the Utes, he’s got a year under his belt and an ability to improvise which always helps diversify offenses. His predecessor Travis Wilson was able to bring Utah football back to competitive levels. Utah went 19-7 over those two seasons, but they weren’t able to make a Pac-12 Championship level run.

For Williams to try to accomplish this task, he needs to up his completion percentage. That has to be the number one most important piece. Hitting 53.1 percent of his 390 passes isn’t good enough. In 2017, he should be able to up that in his second full-year in Utah’s offense.

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