Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham always calls the final scrimmage of spring the most important practice in spring football. The Red and White game, which is on Saturday April 15, is mostly for the fans. The coaches do not use it as much to analyze players in position battles because many starters sit out of the game and the fact that the defense is required to only play base defense.
It was a mixed bag for the offense today. The quarterbacks were live for the scrimmage. There were multiple huge plays in the passing game. Quarterback Troy Williams hit wide receiver Kyle Fulks for a 46-yard touchdown on a player where Fulks beat cornerback Casey Hughes. Quarterback Tyler Huntley found fullback Tyler Bell caught a 58-yard touchdown. Quarterback Cooper Bateman shredded the third team defense with multiple touchdown passes to wide receiver Tyquez Hampton and found Austin Turley for the longest touchdown pass of the day, going for over 70 yards. Huntley also had some nice runs, including a touchdown. The defense had difficulty containing him when he ran. Each of the quarterbacks did some nice things today, and they all bring something different to the table. It is hard to say who had the best day. Another interesting development from the offense was that the running backs were used more in the passing game.
Speaking of running backs, Zack Moss was back in action today for the first time in weeks this spring. He had several runs of greater than 10 yards and showed off his combination of speed and power that made him so effective last season when he was healthy. The running back who had the best day though was arguably Devonta’e Henry-Cole. He is not an easy back to bring down and will run right through arm tackles. Jordan Howard also did well at running back. Utah looks to have a lot of talent at running back this year, and I expect the coaches will get them the ball in creative ways, both running and passing.
It was not all positive for the offense though. Drives stalled too many times during the scrimmage. There were also long stretches where the offense struggled to get a first down. The offense line is still a work in progress. The defense made multiple plays in the backfield and could have many more if not for some great moves from players like Huntley and Henry-Cole. Backup center Aaron Amaama really struggled during the scrimmage with multiple bad snaps. While the offense still has a long way to go, there are things to like about the offense, and there is plenty of time to install this new offense and get new players incorporated.
The defense did get burned several times deep. The secondary was without Chase Hansen, who is likely done for spring because he does not have anything else to prove. The secondary did do a decent job overall though covering the wide receivers, and safety Corrion Ballard had a nice day. He had a big hit on Huntley. The defensive line, even without Lowell Lotulelei and Kylie Fitts, dominated the offensive line. Chris Hart and Caleb Repp both recorded sacks and Maxs Tupai had a pass breakup from the defensive end position. Donavan Thompson had a nice day at linebacker. He had an impressive tackle for loss on Moss.
While fans have not seen it in a game yet, punter Mitch Wishnowsky gained 40 yards on a fake punt. No offense to Utah legend Tom Hackett, but Wishnowsky is bigger and faster. I would expect this is not the last time we see Wishnowsky run a fake punt in his Utah career.