Today at Rice-Eccles Stadium the Utah Utes football team had their first scrimmage of fall camp. As is the policy for fall camp practices, media was only able to observe the last twenty minutes, and most of the starters were out at that point. We got to see a little of quarterback Conner Manning against some of the number one defense (cornerback Eric Roweand safety Tevin Carter were both out there). Rowe had a nice break up on a pass thrown by Manning intended for tight end Westlee Tonga. Senior wide receiver Andre Lewis dropped a pass from Manning on a short route. Manning also missed on a screen pass to running back Devontae Booker.
The Utes then transitioned to punt returning. The coverage is not going to help head coach Kyle Whittingham sleep at night, leading to nice returns by running back Bubba Poole, cornerback Travonne Hobbs, and safety Monte Seabrook. The highlight was wide receiver Kaelin Clay, his speed on full display, as he beat everyone to the edge then was gone. He will be a very dangerous return man for Utah this season, there's no doubt about that.
The rest of practice was conducted by third and fourth string players. Last season's backup quarterback, Adam Schulz, got some playing time and made good decisions on read-option plays and had a few nice runs. He has a great arm, but he again showed his inaccuracy, missing multiple throws. Freshman quarterback Donovan Isom also got some time under center, and he looked timid on many of his throws. Isom will redshirt this year.
Freshman running back Tavaris Williams saw some action in the scrimmage, as well, and showed off his skills. He has great speed and decent balance. Williams may not play this year, because he needs to add some weight, but he could be a good back for the future.
The team did not do anything after practice, but a bunch of children ran to the team as they were ending their meeting at the end of practice.
Play of the Day: Clay's punt return - his speed is definitely for real.
Player of the Day: Difficult to choose since the media didn't get to see many starters, so we'll have to go with Clay again.
The numbers from the stat sheets show the offense was very disappointing. Wide receiver Tim Patrick was the only player who had a good day. He is really making a lot of great plays, and I think he could do some good things this season.
Wilson: 8 for 21 for 101 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 1 fumble
Thompson: 3 for 8 for 63 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Manning: 2 for 11 for 24 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Cox: 2 for 4 for 40 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Poole: 9 carries for 30 yards, long of 7, 0 touchdowns
McCormick: 9 carries for 40 yards, long of 12, 0 touchdowns
Booker: 6 carries for 17 yards, long of 11, 1 touchdown
Young: 2 carries for 3 yards, long of 4, 0 touchdowns
Wilson: 4 carries for 11 yards, long of 7, 0 touchdowns
Thompson: 8 carries for 22 yards, long of 24, 1 touchdown
Cox: 1 carry for 5 yards, 0 touchdowns
Patrick: 7 receptions for 94 yards, long of 34, 1 touchdown
Hatfield: 3 receptions for 44 yards, long of 32, 0 touchdowns
Anderson: 2 receptions for 37 yards, long of 25, 1 touchdown
Lewis: 1 reception for 19 yards, 0 touchdowns
Young: 1 reception for 16 yards, 0 touchdowns
Fakailoatonga: 1 reception for -2 yards, 0 touchdowns
Poole: 1 reception for 34 yards, 0 touchdowns
Booker: 1 reception for 5 yards, 0 touchdowns
Both Tevin Carter and Hunter Dimick had fumble recoveries, and Carter returned a Wilson fumble from the 1-yard line 89 yards to the house. On the scoop and score, Carter showed speed that is much needed for a secondary seeking redemption this season.
Dimick (1), Jason Fanaika (1), Pita Taumoepenu (0.5), and Greg Reese (0.5) all had sacks, and M. Williams (2) and Brian Allen (1) had tackles for loss. This was Allen's first scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball, as he was moved over from wide receiver during the summer.
Porter, Orphey, J. Thomas, Blechen, Larsen, Reese, and Dimick were all credited with pass break ups.
Nate Orchard, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu and Kenneth Scott sat out for precautionary reasons.
The completion percentages are very worrisome, and I am shocked at how poor Manning's were (he needs to be accurate if he wants to compete for the starting job, since he doesn't appear to be a running threat). Two batted balls by defensive ends is also a concern. (It's difficult to read more into the stats, though, without seeing if the quarterbacks had to throw away a lot of passes due to pressure or if there were drops, but for the offense to work well, the starting quarterback needs to be much more accurate.)
The right side of the offensive line could be a concern, since Dimick had a field day with a sack, a pass break up, and a fumble recovery. Reese had a pass break up, and Fanaika had a sack (all three of those guys typically line up against the right side of the line).
The secondary apparently played very well today, which is a good sign after last season. Carter making plays is also very welcome news. Hobbs also looks good and should contribute this year.
Whittingham and offensive coordinator Dave Christensen were displeased with the play of the offense today, so, hopefully, things can get figured out before the season starts in almost two weeks.
"I was pleased with the way the defense flew around and made tackles," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "But we have a lot of work to do on offense. Our execution was not what it should be and we need to make a lot of improvement between now and the second scrimmage (on Saturday)."
Here is some fun that was had after yesterday's practice: