In the last scrimmage of fall camp, the Utes' offense performed well in one of the final few tuneups before Utah meets Michigan at the end of the month.
The scrimmage was held Wednesday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium and head coach Kyle Whittingham was impressed, saying the offense looked the best it has since camp began a couple of weeks ago.
The official site has a report on the scrimmage today. Some highlights:
In the last scrimmage before the Utes open their season at Michigan on Aug. 30, several players stood out for the offense. On the first play, Ray Stowers broke loose for a 20-yard gain in a drive that ended with a 42-yard field goal by Ben Vroman. Vroman, who made two of three field goal attempts, filled in for All-American Louie Sakoda. Sakoda sat out with an infected calf, believed to be caused by a spider bite. The bite is healing and he is expected back on the field in the next day or two.
The second string offense threatened to score a touchdown on its first try, aided by a 35-yard run by freshman Sausan Shakerin. Shakerin was finally brought down on the 7-yard line by Sean Smith. With four heralded running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, it initially appeared as if redshirting Shakerin would make sense. His play in camp has probably put that idea to rest, however.
In the two minute drill, Brian Johnson connected for a 45-yard pass to Bradon Godfrey and a couple of Mack rushes put Vroman well within field goal range. He made a 31-yarder.
The Utes then worked on kickoff returns and long runs by David Reed and Jereme Brooks solidified them, along with Brent Casteel, as the favorites for that job.
Red zone situations followed and the offense performed significantly better than on Saturday, when it struggled to get anything against the defense. Johnson threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Brooks and the No. 2 defense also scored, when Eddie Wide ran 25 yards for a touchdown on the first play against the No. 1 defense. Sean Sellwood made a 32-yard field goal for the second string in other red zone action. The No. 3 offense almost made it three-for-three, when Chad Manis found Chris Joppru in the back of the end zone. RJ Rice and Robert Johnson stripped the ball from Joppru, resulting in an incomplete pass.
While the offense performed its best of the camp, Whittingham did say the defense wasn't as good as it has been.
The defense, which "did not have its best day of camp, but still is right on track," according to Whittingham, showed some energy at the end of the scrimmage when the offense started on its own 35-yard line. None of the offensive units scored in those drills and Chaz Walker made a big pass breakup.
Of course, the offense has been the main concern, since it struggled early in camp, while the defense thrived. So this is very good news and hopefully the team is peaking at just the right time before camp officially closes and the team begins preparing for Michigan.