SALT LAKE CITY -- Darren Carrington admitted it was premature but he said Utah sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley reminds him of his former Oregon teammate Marcus Mariota.
"He reminds me of a quarterback I had in the past, a young version of him. I think, when it's all said and done, he's going to be one of the greats," Carrington said.
"He's not there yet, but almost, he's young but he reminds of Marcus a lot, how he can run, can throw off the run, throw off his back foot 70 yards if he wants to and make people miss."
Living up to a Heisman Trophy winner is a tall task, but in his third start Huntley threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns -- three of them to Carrington -- and Utah sprinted past San Jose State 54-16 Saturday night to keep the Utes unbeaten.
"Tyler and Darren obviously have some chemistry right now. He feels very confident throwing the ball and Darren, as I have been saying, has a huge catch radius," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
Huntley became the first Utah QB since Brian Johnson, who led the 2008 Sugar Bowl champion squad, to have 300-yard passing games on back-to-back outings. Carrington caught nine passes for 153 yards as the Utes (3-0) rolled up 501 yards on a cool, clear night.
"I told him right when I got here, I'd be there for him," said Carrington, who transferred from Oregon. "I think our connection is just getting better and better as we go on."
On the other side, the Spartans (1-3) used four quarterbacks and the third signal caller -- Josh Love -- was the charm. The sophomore passed for 183 yards and had several long connections with Bailey Gaither, who had a career-high 125 yards on eight receptions.
"He hit some big throws. It was good to see Josh stand in there and spread the ball around. ... He made a statement tonight," SJSU coach Brent Brennan said.
But the Utes forced five turnovers, tallied five sacks and held the Spartans to 30 rushing yards on 37 carries.
"Our defense is coming hard every play," Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae said. "Right now we are itching to play a Pac-12 team and get it started."
Utah's offense has been more dynamic this season than the recent past, thanks to Hundley's dual-threat effectiveness, but the Utes have been plagued by penalties and mistakes. Coming in as the fifth-most penalized team in the country, the Utes cut back on flags (six) but had three first-half turnovers and some uncharacteristic blown coverages on defense.
But all that seemed insignificant as Utah's 46th straight sellout crowd enjoyed big plays in all phases of the game.
"We're getting better and better and now that we're going into Pac-12 play, we're ready," Huntley said.
San Jose State: The Spartans limp into the Mountain West Conference slate, smarting from three blowout losses and a number of critical injuries, as quarterback Montel Aaron, leading tackler Frank Ginda, running back Dejon Packer and a number of others limped to the sidelines during the game. (Ginda did return and had 15 tackles.) SJSU may have finally settled the quarterback battle with Love's sharp performance and the Spartans have a big-play threat in Gaither.
Utah: The Utes have now won 18 straight non-conference games and enter the Pac-12 season on a roll. Though the offense has moved to a pass-first spread, the Utes said they hoped to find a running game and not rely so much on Huntley's arm and legs. But again, Utah turned to Huntley and Carrington to carry the load and conference foes will no doubt focus on the Utes' potent duo.
"In a perfect world, we'd be running the ball better," Whittingham said. "But we're improving each time out."
THIS WALK-ON IS A KICK
Former Utah Valley University soccer player Matt Gay kicked four field goals, including a 56-yarder, which is the second-longest in school history. He is the only Utah kicker to have two 50-yard field goals in one game as he also hit from 50 yards out.
After two weeks as the leading vote-getter outside the Top 25, the Utes are poised to enter the rankings after a few ranked teams lost Saturday.
San Jose State: The Spartans host Utah State next Saturday in their Mountain West opener.
Utah: The Utes begin Pac-12 play at Arizona next Friday night.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25
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