Former Ute Receiver Kenneth Scott Has Advice On Utes’ Dropped Passes

Sep 28, 2018, 7:08 PM | Updated: 7:19 pm
Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey (18) unable to make a catch near the goal line near the end o...
Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey (18) unable to make a catch near the goal line near the end of the game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Three games into the season, the University of Utah has had 12 drops from receivers at crucial moments that have hurt the team. Former Ute Kenneth Scott said the receiving corps’ confidence hasn’t caught up with their potential.

As a team, Utah has averaged 248 yards a game, with 11.1 yards per catch. Decent stats, but they’ve had only 4 touchdowns through the air. Many of their dropped passes have stalled drives, keeping the Utes out of the end zone.

“It’s those clutch moments, where you want to make that clutch catch to move the chains, to keep the drive going and to keep the momentum going,” said Scott. “That’s what they are not capitalizing on. I think that is a part of why it is being so amplified and people are talking about it.”

Kenneth Scott had 1,464 receiving yards over his career in Salt Lake, with 506 yards and 457 yards coming in his last two seasons. He had 11 career touchdowns as a Ute.

He also had his fair share of missed opportunities.

“Drops are a part of the game,” said Scott. “If you watch any football game, there is going to be drops. The difference is the scenarios and the situations. You don’t want drops happening in clutch moments when you need to make that catch. I think that is what Utah is suffering from.”

Scott talked to KSL Sports about some of his past experiences that he felt could help the current roster.

Listen to the full interview below:

Drops Through Three Games

KSL.com’s Josh Furlong watched all three of Utah’s games again, and tallied up the drops by the wide receivers. He classified drops by passes off target (Drops: Throw), those broken up by the defender (Drops: Pass Broken Up), and those where the receiver had a chance to catch the ball (Drops: Minus).

Read More: Breaking Down Utah’s Abundance Of Dropped Passes

Furlong pointed out several specific drops that could have made a big difference against Washington. Perhaps the most devastating was a costly play with 11:24 left in the fourth quarter.

Pita Tonga intercepted a pass from Washington QB Jake Browning, returning it to the 3-yard line.

With 1st and goal, and already down 21-7, Utah had the chance to make it a one touchdown game.

On fourth-and-one, Connor Haller bobbled the ball on what looked like a guaranteed touchdown. Instead of six points and the shot at the extra point, the Utes turned the ball over on downs.

Pinpointing the Problem

What has caused the drops at crucial times? Scott has watched the games against Weber State, Northern Illinois and Washington. He said the problem was the receivers’ attitude and mindset.

“I just see a lack of confidence in themselves. I know that they have potential, but I don’t think they are focusing all the way in or putting too much pressure on themselves to make any of the plays,” said Scott.

That lack of confidence has come through in their body language.

“I see them with their head down a lot. I just want them to have that swagger that they had when they were going through camp, making those plays and getting back to being natural,” he added.

It hasn’t been just one or two players, either. Furlong’s research showed drops from nine different players.

“We have said all of the time that drops are contagious,” said Scott. “The more opportunities you get, the more comfortable you become in whatever you do. You can run 30,000 routes and not get the ball, but when that fourth quarter comes, you are expected to make that catch.”

How To Fix It

“What helped me when I was in a slump was, I would stay after practice and work on the jug machine or work on the little things with one of the assistant coaches – or grab a quarterback just to get comfortable and familiar with each other,” said Scott.

He felt the same off-the-field effort would help the current receivers hone their craft and build their confidence in their abilities.

“If they put in the extra work after practice to make sure that the timeframe of the slump gets minimized, it makes them more productive and efficient,” he said.

Scott was named a captain during his senior year in 2015. He told KSL Sports how he handled the situation when his teammates were struggling to catch the ball.

“First, you have to let them know that you are there for them,” he said. “When you are in that moment, you feel like you are alone and everyone hates you. As a leader, you are supposed to pick them back up.”

The goal, he said, was to avoid dwelling on the mistakes and move forward.

“I had a teammate who had a bad game against Washington State a couple of years ago where we should’ve won the game, and late in the game one of our receivers dropped the ball. It was really crucial and late in the game. After the game, I told him that he was a great player, brush it off and get ready for UCLA next week,” he added.

Social Media Criticism

Following the 21-7 loss to Washington, Utah fans took to social media to release their anger. One particular fan reached out to Utes wide receiver coach Guy Holliday via Twitter in a post that has now been deleted, telling him to “get his [bleep] together.” Holliday responded to the upset fan.

Scott had his own encounters with fans during his playing days.

“When I was in the younger stages of my career, I took a lot of that stuff to heart,” he said. “I remember one of the fans wished that I would break both of my legs. As I got older and matured, I put that by the wayside and laughed at it.”

He said it was important for the players not to let negative fans get to them.

“(They’re) not a bigger critic on me than I am to myself. Of course, I want the best of myself. You are not going to be successful all the time. So when things like that happen, I just try to shy away from it. I realized that it wasn’t that serious,” he said.

The message he would send to players who deal with criticism on social media?

“Just try to tune it out. People only say that because it’s in the moment. You just have to mindful of those types of things, it’s just them speaking out of anger,” said Scott.

He also said those fans can play a part it building the team’s confidence.

“(A negative post) causes more harm than anything,” said Scott. “It doesn’t do any good.”

Utah will travel to Pullman to face the Washington State Cougars on Saturday. Kickoff has been set for 4 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.

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Former Ute Receiver Kenneth Scott Has Advice On Utes’ Dropped Passes