It was a rainy day at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the spring football scrimmage on Saturday, the last scrimmage before the Red/White game, and the scrimmage that Coach Whittingham said is the most true scrimmage in the spring. Well, the rain didn’t slow down Tyler Huntley and the offense because they were as impressive as I’ve seen in a spring scrimmage in a long time. Tyler led the first team offense against mostly a first team defense (some injuries and holdouts excluded) and sprinted up the field on the opening series of the scrimmage. Huntley looked confident, comfortable and aggressive today. In the opening drive, he hit Siaosi Mariner for an easy touchdown pass after hitting teammate Demari Simpkins down the field for a big gain. The drive was started with Zack Moss looking as good as ever, elluding tacklers and picking up chunks of yardage. Moss didn’t see a lot of reps, but he hasn’t missed a step.
Huntley proved to me today that he has a grasp on this offense under second year offensive coordinator Troy Taylor. He was slicing up the defense all day long, and then he used his legs on multiple occasions to extend a play and hit a guy down field. That said, the offensive line looked good today too, giving Huntley nice pockets, and giving him plenty of time to see the field and make the play. Huntley made one mistake on the day, a bad throw into double coverage that should have been picked off by Josh Nurse, but it was dropped. He did have one pick in the endzone, but it was a great throw to a wide open Jaylen Dixon who let the ball slide through his hands and landed in the defenders hands. He also went to the tight end a few times through the day, but couldn’t connect, so he was looking for his guys all over the field. I haven’t seen offficial stats, but in the 3 or 4 touchdown drives he led, he easily had 200 yards through the air.
Behind Huntley, Jack Tuttle and Jason Shelley got a lot of run, and both had nice days overall. Tuttle was shaky at times, which you’d expect for a guy that should be in high school. He did, however, make the best throw of the day, that was jaw dropping. He hit Jaylen Dixon for about a 15 yard touchdown on a fade route that fit inside the smallest of windows that only Dixon could get to. Throws like that show this kids ability. He doesn’t look too much like a freshman, but he has his moments. A year redshirting will do him a lot of good, at least a year of development in the offense will put him so far ahead. Shelley probably had the better overall day, as he hooked up with Dixen multiple times in the end zone, and leaned on Samson Nacua as well. He impressed me, and is closed to Tuttle right now than either of them are to Huntley.
Huntley’s legs in the throw game is dangerous. He’s torching the defense. Found Simpkins for a nice 15 or so yard comeback on the sideline. It was a dime.— Block U (@BlockU) April 7, 2018
The running backs look good today too. Obviously, Moss is a stud, but it was great seeing Armand Shyne getting some good reps. He ran hard and picked up some good yardage today. That’s one heck of a one-two punch with those two, and TJ Green got some good run too. He showed some burst and ellusivness that makes him fun to watch. The Utes appeared to have installed a wildcat look in short yardage and goal line, that they ran with Moss and Shyne and different points. It actually got Moss into the endzone once, and picked up some first downs. Shyne let a snap go through his hands on a situational goal line play that really blew up the play, but I have no doubt there was lanes to be ran through.
Utah’s wide receiving corps, even without Britain Covey and Bronson Boyd didn’t get much, if any, run today (that I saw) is looking really nice. Mariner (formerly Siaosi Wilson), Simpkins and Nacua all had really good days. Nacua has the ability to really get some great YAC, and he did it multiple times today. He’s going to be a great weapon going forward. Jaylen Dixon’s day was great, with him pulling in four total (should have been five) touchdowns. He was a big weapon in the redzone today, and I think we’ll see him get plenty of run in the fall.
The defense wasn’t beat all day, once Utah got into some situational stuff, redzone, two minute, etc. they put some clamps on the offense. They did hold Huntley and crew out of the endzone in a redzone situation, and really started to get to Tuttle and Shelley near the end. Bradley Anae didn’t see much action, and Chase Hansen didn’t play, so they were without a couple major keys, but when their backs were against the wall in situational work, they responded. The one time they did get beat was in a clock killing scenerio for the offense. They had Huntley and the first team at 3rd and long, around 8 yards, and Shyne ended up squirting through the line of scrimmage for what would have been a game ending first down. Frankly, I loved seeing that from the offense, because too often we’ve had to punt in those scenrios.
I’m in no way worried about the defense, especially once they’re 100% an ready to play. Instead, I’m really encouraged with the offense. It was aggressive, played in a ton of space, and got in the endzone multiple times. Oh ya, and Matt Gay hit some 50 yard field goals, so he’s still good, while Mitch Wishnowsky pinned some punts inside the 10.
It appears like Utah may have a potentially really good offense on their hands. Obviously, a long ways to go until September, but the signs I saw today are signs I haven’t seen in a spring ball in a loooooong time.