In the ninth practice of spring football 2018, the Utah Utes football team scrimmaged. This marked by far the most live reps the team has seen up to this point in spring football. Both the offense and the defense made some nice plays in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Three quarterbacks were under center for live reps: Tyler Huntley, Jason Shelley and Jack Tuttle. Running back Armand Shyne was the leading rusher for Utah and was one of five different backs to get carries in live reps. Huntley scored a touchdown on the ground. Utah spread the ball around through the air with eight different players recording at least one catch. Wide receivers Bronson Boyd, Saosi Mariner and Jameson Field were the top three in receptions, while tight end Jake Jackson and wide receiver Demari Simpkins caught touchdown passes.
The Utah defense was stingy and flying around making plays. Linebacker Cody Barton and defensive back Josh Nurse each recorded an interception. Nurse also broke up another pass. Nick Heninger scooped up a fumble and returned it 25-plus yards. Barton, Karsen Liljenquist and Pita Tonga were always around the football making tackles throughout the scrimmage.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham on Friday’s scrimmage:
Whittingham said the team works hard and is focused.
”It has been a good vibe. This team has a great work ethic. There is concentration and complete unselfishness, which is the key. Typically, you are going to have a few guys here and there that are problems, but that is not this group. They are all a team and it has been very positive.”
Whittingham says the team has a lot more work to do in spring, with the scrimmage featuring the some of the first live reps for the ones and twos.
”Yes, but we have a lot more to go. Today was the first extensive live work between the ones and the twos. They had only had about six to eight live reps up to this point. There will be a lot of live reps now from this point going forward to the end of spring and that was by design. We are going to have another big scrimmage next Saturday and then of course the spring game the Saturday after that with some live work mixed in during the next two weeks.”
Whittingham said it is hard to judge where both sides of the ball are during a scrimmage in spring because the team competes against itself.
”We had some error snaps, but it was about what I expected overall. Without seeing the film, I thought the offense made a few plays and I thought despite being limited Zack Moss had some nice runs. The defense flew around. It is tough to gauge in spring how good you are because you are going against yourself, but the guys are working hard and like I said they are unselfish and dialed in.”
Whittingham said he would need to review film before he could highlight which position group looked the strongest, though he mentioned some plays from the defensive line and secondary.
”I will have to go to the film for that, but at first glance I thought the defensive line was good. We lost a gap or two here or there, but they appeared solid. We made some plays in the secondary with two interceptions. So, some good things, but I don’t know if I can single out a position group without watching some film.”
If you missed out on the scrimmage, there will be another one on Saturday April 7 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.