The Utah football capped their first week of fall camp today. The first two days the team was just in helmets, and they added shoulder pads today. Block U caught two of the first three practices and below are a recap of our thoughts (in fall camp, media can only view the final 20 minutes of practice). Without full pads, it is hard to gauge just where the running backs, offensive line, and defense (especially defensive line and linebackers) really are because it is so different in just helmets versus full pads, so take all of this with a grain of salt.
This is the position battle that people probably find the most intriguing. Heading into fall camp, Troy Williams, Brandon Cox, and Tyler Huntley were all listed as co-starters atop the depth chart. Through the first three practices, there has been little separation between the three signal callers. Head coach Kyle Whittingham said that the coaches want to see consistent separation by one or more quarterbacks before making any decisions, which could take until the end of next week at the earliest. We will keep you updated on the quarterback battle as it progresses throughout fall camp.
The running backs had a great start to camp. I came away really impressed by the depth and talent Utah has at the position. Joe Williams looks to be the starter heading into the season. He has a nice mix of speed (4.35 40 time) and power. Troy McCormick is a speedster and can break big plays on any carry. True freshman Zack Moss runs incredibly physically and absolutely does not look like a true freshman. Devontae Henry-Cole also received some praise from coaches. Running backs coach Dennis Erickson said this is the most talented group of running backs he has coached at Utah (though he did give praise to former Utah running back Devontae Booker).
Drops have plagued Utah wide receivers since joining the Pac-12, and there appeared to be fewer of them. Tim Patrick shows no signs of injury and is the leader of the wide receivers according to Whittingham. Utah has a lot of size at the position with Patrick, Caleb Repp, and Tyrone Smith all stand 6’4" or taller. True freshman Samson Nacua made a nice catch at practice on Friday as well. There is definitely talent at the wide receiver position. This is another position group we will be watching closely in fall camp.
The big news is the move of All-Pac-12 tackle J.J. Dielman inside to center. Whittingham said the move was prompted by a desire to get the five best players on the field. Dielman did struggle a bit with high snaps, but Whittingham and Troy Williams did not seem concerned. Garett Bolles has lied up to his lofty expectations so far according to Whittingham, which is part of the reason for moving Dielman to center.
Whittingham said the defensive line is probably the deepest it has ever been. He highlighted the play of freshmen Leki Fotu (who does not look at all like a true freshman) who played defensive tackle and defensive ends Bradlee Anae and Maxs Tupai. Pita Taumoepenu was a disruptive force as a pass rusher.
There is talent at linebacker, and Utah primarily only uses two linebackers on the field at any given time. Kavika (formerly known as David) Luafatasaga arrived to Utah late, so his conditioning is behind where it needs to be (and could take two to three weeks to get fully in shape), but he has talent as evidenced by his former four-star rating.
In the secondary, Whittingham highlighted three freshman cornerbacks: Julian Blackmon, Terrell Burgess, and Nygel King.
It is still very early in fall camp. Through the first week, Whittingham has been happy with the intensity of the team.