Camp Kyle is in the books, and the Utes will move into game prep mode moving forward. Coming out of this fall camp, I feel very good going into the season, much better than going into camp. I believe camp went as well as you would have wanted, and that includes injury wise. Sure, Chase Hansen hasn’t really practiced, but Coach Whitt said he should be back this week, and the only loss for the season was Tyrone Smith.
With that said, I still have some concerns going into the season and here they are:
1 - Who will be starting place kicker, and will they be consistent?
Replacing Andy Phillips isn’t going to be easy, and something a lot of people have probably overlooked. It sounds like the job is down to Matt Gay, a former soccer player from UVU and Chayden Johnston, a freshman. Coach Whitt has said he’s not too concerned about the position, and that both are good options, but I will have concerns until I see one, or both, kick in game action.
2 - Running back depth
Utah has a lot of talent at running back, but the depth is a bit thin. Armand Shyne went down with an injury, and will be out for a while, meaning Zack Moss is the starter. I feel good about Moss, but what about behind him? Devonta’e Henry-Cole looked good in spring, and has had a good fall, but it’ll be interesting to see him in full game action. The staff moved Troy McCormick back from wide out, but he can’t get many carries. After those three names, which normally would be enough, there’s a lot of unknowns. I just think about what happened last year, and how they were down to the 5th or 6th string back, and that’s a scary position. Hopefully Shyne can get back and we can have a solid three-headed attack with Shyne, Moss and DHC.
3 - Experience of the secondary
I have no doubts that the secondary has a ton of talent, and the staff has done a good job recruiting that position, I just worry about their experience. The Utes will be starting a true freshman with Jaylon Johnson, as well as Julian Blackmon and a rotation of guys at nickel with Boobie Hobbs, Casey Hughes and others. Like I said, I don’t doubt the skill of these guys, it’s just the game reps. This league is pass happy, and these guys will face a gauntlet at some point. Fortunately, with Chase Hansen back there, he can QB the corners and make sure they’re in the right spots. I know if these guys do gel, they are super young, and Utah’s secondary will be impressive for years to come.
It feels good to be so close to a game, and I can’t wait to see how well these concerns are addressed as we go into the season.