From the Press Box: Utah Football Camp - Day 12

Gene Sweeney Jr.

Saturday was the second scrimmage of the fall, and likely the scrimmage to settle multiple positions battles, including at quarterback.

The media got to view more in the scrimmage today than in the one on Tuesday. We got to see quarterbacks Travis Wilson, Kendal Thompson, Brandon Cox, and Conner Manning, all of whom were live. Wilson and Thompson both worked with the ones and twos, Cox worked with the threes, and Manning worked with the fours. It is worth noting that defensive end Nate Orchard, wide receivers Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott, tight end Westlee Tonga, linebackers Jason Whittingham and Jared Norris, and safeties Tevin Carter and Brian Blechen were all held out of the scrimmage.

Quarterbacks (Alex's breakdown)

Wilson did not attempt many passes when the media was there. He had several incompletions (one was barely off, the other was not close to being caught on an out route by wide receiver Dominique Hatfield). Wilson also completed a pass to tight end Siale Fakailoatonga, and had several decent runs on read-options/quarterback keepers. His stats for the scrimmage were 11-for-22 for 145-yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He added 53 rushing yards on 11-carries with a long of 19-yards and 1 touchdown (1 sack for a loss of 9 yards).

Thompson attempted fewer passes than Wilson in the media viewing session. He had a nice screen pass to McCormick, who had a nice run after the catch. Thompson excelled running the football in the scrimmage. He had a play where he should have been sacked by several different players, but he broke multiple tackles then outran everyone down the sideline for a touchdown; it was a very impressive run (and easily the play of the day). Thompson's final stats were 8-for-18 passing for 129-yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 9 carries for 89-yards with a long of 44 and 2 touchdowns.

Cox saw some action at the end of the scrimmage, and he looked pretty solid. He made a great touch pass to wide receiver Andrew Santiago for roughly 70-yards. However, he also had a couple other throws that were misses. Cox almost broke a long touchdown run off of a quarterback scramble in a five wide receiver set (there was a huge hole in the middle of the line), but a shoe string tackle brought him down. He did add a nice touchdown run later in the redzone, from about three yards out. There are no official stats for Cox.

Manning played with the fourth string, and he looked good. He throws a very nice ball, but it is also easier playing against the fourth string defense. At this point, it is honestly looking like Manning may be getting beat out by Cox for number three on the depth chart. Head coach Kyle Whittingham has been very high on Cox lately, and Manning's lack of mobility will hurt him in Utah's offense.

Daniel's take: There is not much separation between the two front runners. The two balance each other out really well; what Thompson lacks in throwing he makes up for with his feet, the opposite is true for Wilson. I feel that Utah should go with the proven guy with Wilson. The best thing that this QB battle has produced is options. Not just with Wilson and Thompson, but Brandon Cox is on their heels and he is a problem for defenses. It feels good to have QB depth.

Running backs (Alex's breakdown)

I do not remember seeing much from Devontae Booker during the media session, but the stats sheet says he had 2 carries for 73-yards (long of 40) with 1 touchdown, and he added a 16 yard reception. I was very high on Booker after spring, but I think he is getting passed up by Troy McCormick, and he has always been behind Bubba Poole on the depth chart.

Poole was also pretty quiet in the media session, but he did have a very nice punt return for a touchdown (coverage was pretty bad though). He had only 2 rushes for 7-yards (long of 5) with 0 touchdowns, in addition to 2 receptions for 28-yards (long of 14) with no touchdowns.

McCormick was the star today. He is electric with the ball in his hands. We all knew McCormick had speed, but I have been incredibly impressed with his balance; he is very hard to bring down for someone his size. He had a great 59-yard touchdown run where someone almost tackled him, but he broke the tackle then outran everyone for the touchdown (cornerback Wykie Freeman was called for a horse collar tackle trying to bring down McCormick from behind in the endzone). McCormick is also dynamic in the screen game where he had a nice gain. Official stats for McCormick were 8 rushes for 89-yards with 1 touchdown and 1 reception for 18-yards.

Dre'Vian Young was not a back I remember seeing, but he had 7 rushes for 24 yards (long of 8), and he has done some nice things in camp.

Tavaris Williams also had several nice runs, including one long touchdown run. He has great speed, but he does not have.

Daniel's take: The running backs are exciting. If Booker holds on to the ball he will be one of the best backs in the Pac-12. Utah's running backs look to have big play potential, with Booker, Poole, and McCormick, and that's something Utah lacked last season.

Wide Receivers (Daniel's take):

The wide receivers are fantastic. Scott and Anderson should be the best tandem in the league. Scott has the best hands on the team and Anderson's speed is no secret. This will make things A LOT easier on the QB, regardless of who that may be. The best part is that they aren't the only weapons. Kenric Young and Troy McCormick are explosive, and they can break off big plays at anytime. The Utes have greatly upgraded the talent and speed on the outside.

Defense

The front four look to be great, as usual. They are big and physical, which is typical for Kalani Sitake defensive tackles.

The defensive ends, also, look to be really good. If Nate Orchard can remedy his inconsistencies, he will be one of the top end's in the Pac-12. With the potential emergence of Wallace Gonzalez at defensive end, Utah looks to be in great shape.

Line backers look to be solid, as long as they do not sustain any more injuries. If Paul returns by the Michigan game, they will be in great shape.

Defensive back still remains a question, and young guys will have to step up. I would guess that Travonne "Boobie" Hobbs makes a name for himself at corner. Eric Rowe and Davion Orphey are also showing to be solid at corner.

Like the line backer's, the safety position needs to stay healthy. Tevin Carter and Brian Blechen should make a huge difference in leading a young backfield.

Official stats:

Offensive Stats
Rushing No Net TD Long
Wilson 11 53 1 19
Poole 2 7 0 5
K. Thompson 9 89 2 44
McCormick 8 89 1 59
Booker 2 73 1 40
D. Young 7 24 0 8
Passing Cmp-Att-INT Yards TD
Wilson 11-22-1 145 2
K. Thompson 8-18-1 129 2
Receiving No Yards TD Long
K. Young 1 38 1 38
Patrick 3 37 0 15
Hatfield 2 6 0 4
Clay 3 13 1 9
Fakailoatonga 2 70 1 65
Booker 1 16 0 16
Poole 2 28 0 14
McClellon 2 17 0 13
Moeai 1 13 0 13
Lewis 1 18 1 18
McCormick 1 18 0 1

Defensive Stats

Fumbles Rec: None
Fumbles Forced:
None
Sacks:
Gonzalez 1 (-9)
Tackles for loss: Dimick 1 (-2), Borg 1(-1), Allen .5(1.5), Gonzalez 1.5(-10.5), Smith .5(-1), Seabrook .5(-1), Freeman 1(-1)
Interceptions: Gonzalez 1 (2 yd return), Eggiman 1 (32 yd ret)
Pass break ups: Seabrook 1, Hobbs 1, Reese 1, Hughes 1
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