School started for the University of Utah today, and the Utah Utes football switched from fall camp to regular season practices. Practice is closed to the public and the media, so there will not be any practice reports, but head coach Kyle Whittingham and the players were available for interviews. Block U caught up with Whittingham, quarterback Tyler Huntley, and linebacker Cody Barton after practice. Clink on any of the names below to hear the audio, there are also a few selected quotes or general information included below as well.
On how practice went today:
“It was a good practice. No lack of attention or focus. I thought it was pretty good.”
On the final scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday
“It was good. It was about the same model as what we did the week before as far as length and the situations that we covered. We came out of it clean, which was one of the number one objectives is to stay healthy. The ones did not get a whole lot of live work. The twos was all live. All the work for the twos was live. All of the three work was live. We wanted to make sure we came out of that as healthy as possible, which we accomplished.”
On what Whittingham is looking for in the left guard position battle between redshirt freshman Nick Ford and true sophomore Orlando Umana
“Consistency. The guy who can make the fewest mental mistakes. Physicality. The guards are a road grader position where you have to move people around, the big 300+ pound defensive tackles. They are both young, second year in the program. They are both working hard. Right now they are on pretty equal footing.”
This quote from Whittingham stuck out to me. Whittingham touched on the talent of this year’s team and some about last year. Whittingham has always struck me as honest, I believe what he says.
“We feel like we have a pretty talented roster. Working hard in recruiting. We feel like from 1 to 85, which we are never at 85, we are probably at 82 scholarship guys, we are as good of shape as we have ever been, particularly since joining the Pac-12 as far as depth and the shear athletes on the team. I thought we were a pretty good team last year. We were seven points of those three tough games [Stanford, at USC, and at Washington]. It could have gone either way, didn’t go our way. I’m not sure that we had a dip last year in talent. We just didn’t win the games we could have won.”
On the small senior class
“We have quality not quantity in our senior class.”
Jack Tuttle is the lone freshman on the leadership council
“His peers obviously think a lot of him. He’s been here since last semester, which helped his cause. It always give you a head start if you can transfer mid year and get here early, which about a third or a fourth of the class seems to be doing that now. That helped him establish himself. Through what he has done since he has been here has earned the respect of his teammates.”
Whittingham said to be on the lookout for a depth chart maybe Friday, which will reveal the backup quarterback.
On late addition linebackers Bryant Pirtle Jr. and Francis Bernard
“[Bryant Pirtle Jr. and Fracis Bernard] are right in the mix. They are on the travel squad. They getting reps with the travelers in practice. Francis [Bernard] has proven to be a really fast learner. He has done a great job absorbing the defense. Pirtle has been set back a little bit by a few nagging injuries. In the final analysis I expect both of them to be good players for us.”
Whittingham expects that about a half dozen true freshmen give or take a few will play this year beyond the four games allotted by the new NCAA redshirt rule.
Speaking of true freshmen, wide receiver Solomon Enis has received high praise.
“Yes [Enis] is playing no doubt about it. He is in the mix, and he is actually fighting for one of the four top jobs in the four receiver sets.”
On what it means to be named a captain
“It means a lot that my team trusts me to do the right thing and the coaches trust me to do the right thing. I am going to do the right thing. I take honor and pride in that.”
How he has grown as a leader since arriving at Utah
“As I’ve grown up, some things that we learned along the way. I guess that shows on and off the field.”
On being a captain as the starting quarterback
“It means a lot. That means the team really trusts you. They really are behind you and everything like that.”
On true freshman Solomon Enis and other young receivers
“He making a lot plays. Terrell Perriman is making a lot of plays. Our younger guys are making a lot of plays. It is good that we have younger kids that are making a lot of plays.”
On his “baller” Hallandale teammates, Zack Moss and Demari Simpkins
“All of us are grown. All of us are older now, and we know what need to do to get some wins, and we need to just go out there and get ‘em.”
“I don’t feel like nothing is different. Just me growing as a quaterback and a person. My mindset is a little bit different, but I’m going into just as focused as last year.”
On how he is preparing to avoid taking hits this year
“We have been working on my slide. Working on running out of bounds. Just protecting my body.”
On being named a captain
“I feel very grateful to be elected captain. It just shows the lot of hard work that I’ve done has paid off. It shows that I’m respected by a lot of the guys on the team. It is another step along the way. I am very, very grateful.”
On how he prepared for his senior year
“Going into this year I knew it was my last season. Mentally it was this is my last year. I’ve got to give it all I’ve got. I guess in that aspect ya. This is my last shot, so I’m literally going to give it all I have. That’s the mental edge I have right now.”
Barton highlighted the talent and depth in the linebacker group behind the starters, him and Chase Hansen, including Donavan Thompson, Bryant Pirtle, Francis Bernard, Chris Hart, and Devin Lloyd. Having the depth helps keeps everyone fresh.
On not being in the top 25
“I kind of like starting out as an underdog, unranked. It puts a chip on your shoulder. Knowing that going into the season, it is something else you want to work for. We want to be the top guys. It is just a little extra chip on your shoulder.”