Camp Kyle '16 is now in the books and the start of the season is just a little over a week away. As usual, fall camp provided the coaching staff with valuable time to evaluate players and install the offensive and defensive schemes for this season. Looking back over the past few weeks, let's reflect on what we learned from fall camp.
1. We have a quarterback
Troy Williams emerged as the unquestioned starter in Fall camp. After a spring which saw Williams sit out a large portion, and both Tyler Huntley and Brandon Cox perform well, there was still a question of who would win the starting job in fall. Fully healthy, Williams took command and firmly placed himself atop the depth chart, showing the best combination of athleticism, leadership and consistency. Tyler Huntley continued his emergence enough to overcome veteran Brandon Cox for the backup spot, leading to Cox's departure from the program.
Williams impressed with his ability to complete throws consistently and taking on a leadership role as a transfer. Williams showed a commitment to be the best, often staying late after practice on his own and watching copious amounts of film in his spare time. He impressed his coaches and teammates so much in spring and fall, that he was named one of five Utah captains for the upcoming season. If Utah was looking to fill a leadership gap on offense this fall, consider it done.
2. Cody Barton and Sunia Tauteoli stepped up at linebacker
Linebacker is one of, if not the biggest question mark for the Utes heading into the season. With very little experience returning, fall camp was a huge opportunity for guys to step up and make a case for themselves for a starting role. Sunia Tauteoli and Cody Barton met the challenge and emerged from fall camp as two bright spots in that position group.
While no one expects them to step in and replace guys like Gionni Paul and Jared Norris right off the bat, Tauteoli and Barton were capable, and most importantly consistent, something defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley emphasized in fall camp. Touted incoming junior Kavika Luafatasaga had his moments as well, and will continue to compete for a starting position. Barton and Tauteoli may have had a step on him, competing in spring ball and being part of the team longer. The coaches remain excited for Laufatasaga as he continues to develop his role with the team. Other players like freshman Donovan Thompson impressed as well.
3. The Receivers are showing better hands
The receiving group has been a work in progress the past few seasons for Utah, and dropped balls have been a common theme. Enter new receivers coach Guy Holliday who made a point to toughen up the receiving group and cut down on dropped balls. His tactics appear to be working as there were fewer drops this fall than in seasons past.
Tim Patrick has earned praise as a senior leader and looks poised to contribute in a big way at the position this season. On the other end both Tyrone Smith and Caleb Repp have great size and soft hands and are able to high point the ball well in jump ball situations. Raelon Singleton has also impressed with his receiving abilities in fall and Kyle Fulks will look to make the most of his chance at the slot position.
There is not a lot of production returning in the receiving corps, but the talent is definitely there to have a productive unit. There is good size on the outside and speed on the inside. Holliday has brought a more competitive spirit to the group which has led to improved performance on the field. It remains to be seen how everything will translate into a live game, but so far the receiving group appears ahead of last years group.