The first team offense and the first team defense went head to head in practice today during the final scrimmage. First, some notes from the drills before the scrimmage.
Wide receiver Kaelin Clay dropped a punt, but he followed that with a nice return on his next opportunity. Running back Bubba Poole did not have any returns for the punts he was fielding.
In a drill between offensive and defensive linemen, it seemed like the defensive linemen won more than the offensive linemen. There were some potential shake ups on the offensive line with Isaac Asiata playing some at left guard (check out Daniel's interview with Asiata coming soon) and Salesi "Leka" Uhatafe getting some reps at right guard, where he looked solid.
Safeties Andre Godfrey and Charles Henderson are both available after missing time from injury.
It seems like the backup quarterback is always the most popular player on the team. When a starting quarterback struggles, fans often call for the backup quarterback to start. I bring this up because even though Travis Wilson struggled against Wazzou, he is consistently the better quarterback in practice. This was again true today. Wilson only missed one throw that I remember. He threw a very nice pass on a fade to wide receiver Kenneth Scott, who caught it over cornerback Dominique Hatfield. Wilson placed the ball where it needed to be, so Scott could go up and get it. Wilson also made much better decisions on the read option than he did against WSU, and had several nice runs because of it. Kendal Thompson faced more pressure and held onto the ball too long, leading to several sacks. Thompson did throw a nice pass to wide receiver Tim Patrick, and he also was not as effective as Wilson in the read option.
Utah focused more on the running game today, and Devontae Booker was the focal point. He had multiple nice runs and never seemed to lose yardage. To me, he further proved today that he deserved to be the starter. Poole had a few decent runs, but he was often stopped for short gains. He just does not hit the hole as well as Booker does. Troy McCormick got one carry for a few yards.
Wide receivers/tight ends
This group was rather quiet on the day as not many passes were thrown. Scott had the best catch of the day over Hatfield. Tight end Westlee Tonga was targeted once by Wilson on an out route, but Wilson overthrew him. Delshawn McClellon dropped a pass. Dres Anderson stayed after practice again to work with the JUGS machine (as did Scott and Kenric Young).
The second team defense did a great job getting pressure on Thompson. Defensive end/linebacker Pita Taumoepenu got excellent penetration to blow up a read option play. Cornerback Brian Allen laid a hit on Thompson (despite the no contact rule). Both shook it off and Allen apologized, but cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah liked his intensity and told him to never apologize for a good hit. Defensive end Jason Fanaika and cornerback Boobie Hobbs combined for a sack on Thompson.