The end of spring football is upon us. The Utes wrap up spring ball with the annual Red and White game Saturday at Rice Eccles Stadium. Head coach Kyle Whittingham says he doesn't see any obvious holes in this year's team through spring practice. With that being said, here's what I would like to see on the offensive side of the ball on Saturday afternoon.
The receiver position will be of particular interest tomorrow afternoon. Gone is Dres Anderson and Kaelin Clay, leaving Kenneth Scott as the most experienced and best receiver on the team. Scott has been solid through spring ball and aside from injuries, has had a good career at Utah thus far. I'd like to see Scott take that next step in turning into a true no. 1 receiver this season. While this won't happen during the course of the spring game, it provides the perfect opportunity for Scott to come out and demonstratively show he is the best receiver on the team. It will also be interesting to see how Bubba Poole does lining up at receiver. Poole could play a significant role in the receiving game this year and it will be good to see how his transition to the receiver position translates during live action.
On another note, I'd like to see all the receivers show sure hands during the spring game. Drops have plagued the Utah receiving corps in recent years. Dres Anderson, as fast as he was, had a problem with catching the ball at times in his career and cost the offense more than a couple touchdowns. So far in spring, drops have continued to be an issue with many of the receivers. Kenneth Scott has shown sure hands, but I'd like to see someone like Delshawn McClellon or Kenric Young, both burners, show they can reliably catch the ball. Utah is going to need more than one guy catching passes to take pressure of Travis Wilson and keep opposing defenses from stacking the box against Devontae Booker in the upcoming season.
On the offensive line, consistency during the spring game will go along way in proving the unit is continuing to build on what offensive line coach and assistant offensive coordinator Jim Harding started a year ago. The offensive line struggled for a few years under Dan Finn, but Harding seems to have righted the ship last year and the offensive line proved to be a strength for the offense. I'd like to see the line continue with solid play, not making any stupid mistakes and providing good run blocking up front.
The quarterback position and running back position seem pretty set in stone at this point. Kendal Thompson's knee injury pretty much makes the quarterback spot Travis Wilson's to lose. Wilson has looked solid, not spectacular, in spring ball, but has improved every season. Under the more aggressive play calling of Aaron Roderick, Wilson may flourish. One thing I would like to see from Wilson, however, would be some more patience in the pocket. Wilson has a tendency to run when he feels pressure, which sometimes works out well, but often doesn't (see last year's Michigan game). When Travis is facing pressure on Saturday, I'd like to see him step up in the pocket and take another second or two to find something, then if nothing is open go ahead and get yards with his legs.
I will be curious to see watch Chase Hansen in a game situation as well. Hansen has by all accounts taken the lead on what will end up being the third spot at quarterback once Thompson returns. Thompson and Wilson are both seniors, meaning whoever gets the third spot behind them could very well be the starter next season. Hansen has always had a reputation as a good runner, so I will be curious to see how he does throwing the ball in the pocket, on the run and with pressure in his face.
Booker won't see the field during the spring game and his presumed backup Joseph Williams hasn't yet arrived on campus, so the running back position will provide a limited scope of we can expect to see in the fall. Tani Leha'uli has grabbed the lead with the available running backs and will get plenty of touches to show what he can do.
Lastly, I'd like to see how Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding work together as co-offensive coordinators. Roderick has held this position before, during the 2010 season, in which he had mixed results. I'd like to see the offensive play calling be more aggressive than we have seen in recent seasons. Obviously Booker is the bell cow for this team and the offense will be called accordingly, but with Booker sitting out the spring game, this provides an excellent opportunity for the coaches to open things up in the passing game and get a good feel for what Travis and his receivers are able to do.
The spring game will be televised on Pac-12 networks live from Rice-Eccles Stadium at 1 pm MT.
Let us know in the comments what you'd like to see in the spring game!
Listen to our podcast episode that previews the spring game here: