Good morning, Ute fans.
A funny thing happened at practice yesterday - the defense stepped up.
We talked yesterday about whether or not the defense would be able to keep up with the offense and it appears, at least yesterday, they did. The offense struggled, but that's to be expected. You can't have flawless performances every day of practice. Even with an experienced group of players.
Whittingham had this to say about the defense:
Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham praised the effort of the defense, noting that they got after it pretty good. "It's always the case with the defense a little bit ahead of the offense."
Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come and both the offense and defense are hitting their stride. We're only a few days into camp, but the quicker the defense progresses, the better we'll be when Sept. 2nd rolls around.
Beyond the defense improving and the offense struggling yesterday, the coaching staff announced some changes to the depth chart:
- Martavious "Mo" Lee has completed his academic prerequisites and will start practicing with the Utes this week
- Defensive end Lei Talamaivao will have surgery to repair his injured knee and is out for the season
- Two Ute offensive linemen suffered knee injuries in practice Saturday. Both Kapua Sai and Ron Tongaonevai are expected to return in the next couple of weeks--Sai as the lead backup at right tackle
- James Aiono has moved from defensive tackle to defensive end, where he is No. 2 at right end behind Junior Tui'one
- Starter Justin Taplin-Ross has moved from strong safety to free safety. Co-leaders for the starting job at strong safety are Chris Washington and Victor Spikes
- Christian Cox is working with the first string at left end, with Derrick Shelby the backup
- Tevita Stevens has taken the lead over Sam Brenner at right guard, while John Cullen has moved ahead of Percy Taumoelau at left tackle
- Utah's already strong run game looks even deeper with the emergence of Tauni Vakapuna. Vakapuna, a transfer from Dixie State College, walked on to the team in the spring and has looked impressive so far in camp.