Utah tended to go as Travis Wilson went in 2015. When he played well, the Utes won. If he didn't, they'd struggle. Unfortunately for Utah, there was more of the latter over the second half of the season.
Wilson came out of the gate looking like the guy we saw over the second half of fall camp. His command, his control, his poise, and his decision making were all improved from the previous season as the Utes went 4-0 through September (Wilson did miss the Fresno State game due to injury) as he threw for 513 yards on 68% with 4 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Wilson also 'chipped in' another 200 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground through the first month. Throw in an underrated performance against Cal and a 'I'm going to put this team on my back' game against Arizona State and Utah was 6-0 and ranked #3 in the country behind their senior signal caller. Then Utah traveled to USC.
With 4 interceptions against the Trojans, Wilson and Utah took their first loss and things were never the same as he struggled down the stretch, finishing with 13 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and a 62% compleition percentage. It was the up and down Wilson that we saw through the first three years of his career, unable to make those big plays in the big games at a consistent level to allow Utah to take the next step. The UCLA game? Bad. Colorado? Dreadful. BYU? Awful. Those are the final three to end the season.
It hurts when you don't have your top receiving options out there, but Wilson was a senior who showed flashes, only to follow them up with misses. If it weren't for his runnnig ability, you'd be hard pressed to call it close to an average year for a Pac 12 level quarterback.
Now, Wilson has earned his due to his toughness. He was an absolute warrior out on the field for 4 years for the Utes, but his career will ultimately be defined by a faliure to take Utah to the next level, despite opportunities to do so in both 2014 and 2015.
Kendal Thompson's transfer from Oklahoma to Utah didn't end up panning out the way he wanted in terms of play time. While Thompson did play extensively in 2014, his 2015 play time dropped significantly with only one start against Fresno State when Wilson was injured. Thompson finished the season throwing only 36 passes, and will have to transition to wide receiver at the next level if he wants his career to continue.
As we look to the future, Utah should be in decent hands between incoming junior college transfer Troy Williams and returning junior Brandon Cox.
Williams was one of the top quarterbck recruits in the 2013 class, ultimately ending up at Washington before heading back to Southern California and Santa Monica City College where he put up video game-like numbers this past year. He's a dual-threat that can run, but is more comfortable throwing the ball with great touch and does a tremendous job throwing his receivers open. He'll be on campus shortly and is the favorite to win the job as we head into spring ball.
The coaches have a lot of confidence that Brandon Cox can ultimately be a difference maker if he's able to to stay healthy. Cox has the athleticism and throwing touch to be successful next season, but still needs to work on his slow throwing motion and stop trying to use his touch to make every throw.
Tyler Huntley was the Florida Gatorade State player of the year, but he'll almost certainly spend the 2016 season on the sidelines, learning and putting on weight to a thin frame.
The big wildcard here is whether or not Chase Hansen returns as a quarterback. After what we saw in his limited tim at safety this year, you'd have to think he's going to stick on that side of the ball.
2016 Projected Depth Chart
Troy Williams (Jr)
Brandon Cox (Jr)
Tyler Huntley (Fr)