The Utah football team held their first scrimmage in spring practice earlier today. Everyone on offense was made live during the scrimmage. While there is a long way to go between now and the start of the season, making the quarterbacks live helped shape the battle and offered some more clarity. The quarterback who had the best day was incumbent starter Troy Williams.
One play that I think epitomizes what Utah wants to be offensively was the draw call on fourth and goal from the 10-yard line that led to a Williams touchdown run, one of the few touchdowns on the day for the offense. Utah did show they were willing to be more aggressive offensively last season, going for it on fourth down repeatedly. However, they did not make a habit of going for it on fourth and long inside the red zone. While this was only a scrimmage in spring camp, it is refreshing to see the confidence the coaches have in the offense and Williams specifically. The drive that touchdown run capped, which also featured an 18-yard pass from Williams to wide receiver Siaosi Wilson, was arguably the best drive of the day for the offense.
Do not count out sophomore Tyler Huntley however, the main challenger to Williams at quarterback. While he has not been as accurate as Williams throwing the ball, he is a dangerous runner. Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman took the second-team reps, but he made the most of his reps. He found freshman wide receiver Samson Nacua for a 48-yard touchdown pass. Nacua is very promising. He is big with good speed.
At running back, Jordan Howard and Devontae Henry-Cole both did some nice things. Howard took some reps with the first team.
These offensive highlights aside, the offense did struggle for much of the scrimmage. This makes sense though. The offensive line only returns one starter for example. They need to time to gel, and it showed at times. They are facing an experienced front seven that features a lot of depth and talent. There are a lot of young guys who showed up well on the second team, like sophomore Chris Hart for example. Sophomore linebacker Donavan Thompson had an interception in the red zone. Sophomore Julian Blackmon also picked off a pass.
This was just the beginning of a very long journey in the Utah position battles. There is still a long way to go before Utah starts the 2017 season. Many new players will come back from injuries for fall camp, and new players will arrive. The Utah defense is running the same scheme and returns a lot of experience in the front seven, while the Utah offense is breaking in a new system with many new faces, especially on the offensive line. The bottom line is take all this with a grain of salt.
Here are some videos taken by Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune after practice:
Troy Taylor talks about the spring scrimmage and QBs going live. pic.twitter.com/W8pBEWScj6— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) April 1, 2017
Troy Williams after the first scrimmage of spring. pic.twitter.com/Dvd3ln0hS3— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) April 1, 2017