Utah's spring football practice took on a somber vibe Friday. Midway through 11-on-11 work, promising young Utah running back Troy McCormick suffered what looked to be a substantial knee injury, and was carted out of Rice-Eccles Stadium. Furthermore, the pit was full with eight guys in total
Surprisingly, after McCormick's injury, the physicality of practice did not change. The hits kept coming and the pads continued to pop. This team is tough, tenacious and willing to trade helmet paint with anyone. I spent most of my time with the defense Friday, and was interested in seeing the interaction between John Pease and his unit.
Confidence. The defense as a whole is full of it, however, the defensive line embodies it. They are vocal all practice long, and they harass the offense both verbally and physically - and John Pease helps cultivate this environment. Pease is two different people. During media interaction he is polite and mild mannered. While on the field, he is loud, assertive and constantly finding ways to get his guys going. The D-Line is his strongest unit and he demands the best out of them every minute of practice. At one point, Pease told Lowell Lotulelei to "Get his a** going" and to "stop dragging a**." This is his style, old school and tough as nails. And it fits perfectly in Kyle Whittingham's world.
The LB's made a few mistakes Friday. They got beat on a couple of crossing routes, that while hard to defend, should have been routine for the experience on the field. Even with some mistakes, the group as a whole is progressing, which is very good news considering the youth of the unit. The overall progression of the unit, thus far in spring, makes me less worried about depth at this position as I was before the start of spring camp. Jared Norris continues to lead by example, he is extremely fast at plugging gaps and stopping the run. He is the undoubted leader in this group, in my opinion.
The DB's are going to be very, very good. Dominique Hatfield is a headache for any WR that lines up across from him. He is physical, has great feet, and is very good at using the sideline to create space issues. He is also quick to close on the ball and is very good with his hands. Hatfield has the potential to be one the best lockdown corners in the Pac-12. The other corner spot is still open competition at this point. Reggie Porter and a few other players spent time trying to move into the top spot. However, I believe the Porter will end up in the starting role, he has great feet and good technique.
It's hard to make a completely accurate assessment of the offenses abilities at this point. At times Friday, there were flashes of brilliance and other times they stalled. There are some factors to consider: First, the o-line is not
In my opinion the jury will be out on the offense until midway through fall camp.
Here are some post practice interview and photos: