The media session was very short today, so we did not get to see much. The team was doing drills for part of the 20 minutes and only scrimmaged for a little bit. The first team offense was going against the second team defense and vice versa. The coaches were emphasizing hustling today (running off the field), but the coaches seemed happy overall with the offensive tempo.
"[I want us to continue to] improve our execution and eliminate mistakes, mental mistakes in particular," said Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham. "Those should start to dwindle down to virtually none. We have to continue to work on our level of fitness. In the high-tempo offense that we run and the high-tempo offenses we have to defend every week, we have to make sure we keep our cardiovascular level where it needs to be."
Only Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson played. The team emphasized running more today than yesterday, so neither quarterback threw many passes, but, overall, Wilson looked sharper than Thompson. Neither quarterback threw many deep balls (the longest pass was about a 20-yarder from Wilson to senior tight end Westlee Tonga). Most were shorter passes or screens/swing passes to the running backs.
Returning starter Bubba Poole had a nice run after the catch on a swing pass, but he was mostly quiet on the day. Redshirt freshman Troy McCormick did not have any long runs, but he showed again how fast he is in the open field. He will be a great change of pace back for Utah this season and could be a feature back in a few years. Junior transfer Devontae Booker was the best back today. He runs very physically, and he has great speed for someone his size. Booker did slip right after catching a swing pass, but other than that, he was on today.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:
Former walk-on wide out Tim Patrick made several catches again today, one where he was covered by Eric Rowe and Tevin Carter. Dres Anderson made a great block down field on Dominique Hatfield to help spring Booker for a few extra yards on a sweep. It is great seeing Anderson focus on the little things to help the team. Sophomore burner Delshawn McCellon made several catches today while playing in the slot. He is dangerous after the catch with his speed. (They don't call him "The Roadrunner" for nothing.) Tonga had a nice reception in double coverage along the sideline for roughly 20 yards.
As we were walking in, sophomore linebacker Marcus Sanders-Williams jumped a route and intercepted a pass from Wilson. Rowe came on a corner blitz and disrupted Thompson's rhythm, forcing him to throw early. Senior safety Brian Blechen looked good today, reading plays well.
Whittingham announced that cornerback Rowe will be the first backup option at safety, indicating that Justin Thomas and Wykie Freeman could be called upon to fill the senior's corner spot in that scenario.
"[Rowe's] done a nice job," Whittingham said. "He's been guarding Dres [Anderson] most of camp and that's tough duty. He has a big challenge every single day, but he's in the right spot now."
At the end of practice, the special teams unit executed some hurry-up field goal drills. Place kicker Andy Phillips nailed a 46-yard field goal during the hurry-up segment.
"We were just working on a situation," Whittingham said. "You never want to rush your kicker unless the clock is a factor. Every once in a while, we'll send the field goal unit out simulating when we have no timeouts, the clock is running and it's fourth down so we can't spike the ball to stop it. That situation may very well come up this year so we have worked that drill probably six or seven times during fall camp."
The team ended practice with a lightning basketball contest. Freshman safety Marcus Williams was the winner, with wide receiver Kenneth Scott coming in second. Patrick, Tonga, and offensive tackle Jackson Barton all looked good shooting the basketball.
Here is what new quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick had to say afterward:
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