The Utah Utes football team held day four of fall camp today (the third practice open to the media). The team took another big step forward according to head coach Kyle Whittingham. The team introduced some two-back sets that offensive coordinator Troy Taylor mentioned would be coming in interviews yesterday.
We did not see as much from Troy Williams today. Tyler Huntley and Cooper Bateman took the majority of reps today. Williams had his best day yesterday according to Whittingham (make sure to read our article about practice yesterday because Williams was a stud yesterday). Williams did throw a beautiful back shoulder pass that was perfectly placed. Whittingham said that Williams and Huntley are beginning to separate from Bateman. Huntley definitely had the better day today than Bateman. Huntley was both more accurate and is a better runner. Bateman is not looking bad by any means it is just Williams and Huntley are performing better.
T.J. Green had an incredible spin move that put linebacker Karsen Liljenquist in the spin cycle. We saw some more passes to running backs today like Zack Moss.
The wide receivers did a nice job again today. Darren Carrington continues to prove he is the real deal. He made an insane catch on a very contested ball with Jaylon Johnson in coverage, one of several catches on the day for Freshmen Bryan Thompson and Tyquez Hampton both looked good and each reeled in at least one catch, as did Siaosi Wilson. Demari Simpkins made a catch and then had a great move in space. The other wide receiver who had a really nice day was Alec Dana. He showed off speed and route running. He did a great job of getting separation from his defender and was one of the most targeted receivers on the day because he was getting open.
The offensive line did not have a bad day per se, but the defensive line definitely won the day. More will become clear with the offensive line once all the pads come on.
The defensive line was causing havoc today. Kylie Fitts was a monster off the edge all practice long. Lowell Lotulelei also made some nice plays. Whittingham said this could be one of the deepest groups they have ever had at defensive line, going five or more deep at both defensive tackle and defensive end.
The linebackers made some plays in the passing game. Cody Barton had a nice pass breakup. They also provided some pressure on the quarterbacks as well.
The defensive backs looked very good today. Jaylon Johnson had a great pass breakup in coverage against Carrington. He really has looked the part of a highly regarded four-star recruit in the three days the media has seen him, and he continues to earn praise from Whittingham. Julian Blackmon and Casey Hughes also both stood out as having nice days as well. Whittingham stood by his statement today that the secondary has the potential and talent to be better than last year’s group.
We did not get to observe special teams, but punting is obviously excellent with Mitch Wishnowsky back. Whittingham said there is still an open competition at kicker. Whittingham said that Derrick Vickers could be a factor as a returner if/when he arrives on campus.
Overall, I thought the defense won the day, largely because the defensive line was creating so much pressure. We also saw less of Williams at quarterback, which might have been a factor as well. The offense still made some plays, and Utah really does have a lot of talent at the skill positions. As long as the team continues to make progress, they will be in great shape. The team is heavy on talent just a little light on experience after losing 17 players to the NFL from the 2016 squad.