With No Spring Football, Morgan Scalley Faces His Toughest Season Yet

Apr 17, 2020, 3:16 PM | Updated: 3:17 pm
Morgan Scalley - Utah Utes...
Utah Defensive Coordinator/Safeties coach Morgan Scalley walks around the field prior to Utah and UCLA playing a college football game in Salt Lake City at Rice Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Courtesy of Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Some are expecting Utah football to take a step back in 2020 since the team lost so much production and could see as many as nine players being selected in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The defense is losing nine starters from a unit that were the national leaders in multiple categories.

Having basically no spring football could be seen as an excuse for taking a step back next year but Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley joined KSL Unrivaled and does not want anyone’s sympathy because it is his job to get the defense ready.

“We lost eight of our guys, five went to the NFL combine and eight have the potential to be drafted, and that is taking a lot of production away from your unit,” Scalley said. “We have had people leave in the past and the same question with who will step up and who will produce? It has not been at this level and I don’t think we have had to replace nine starters before. It doesn’t matter, no one cares. Eighty percent don’t care and the other 20 percent are glad you have those problems.” 

Utah will have to rely on a lot of new talent from the recruiting cycle and backups who may not have seen much time in 2019. The 2020 recruiting class will be asked upon heavily to get ready. The highest-rated players from that class all came on defense with all four-star signees on that side of the ball.

Toughest Test For Scalley?

However, Scalley knows his job is to get everyone ready for whenever the 2020 season begins. He seemingly has the tools but these young players need to get up to speed and the staff will have to be creative in doing that.

“We have guys we have recruited and are fired up about them and it is our job to develop them,” Scalley added. “The obstacle now is being able to develop them and get them ready in a time where you are not seeing them face to face. We had three practices in spring ball and did not have the other 12. The NCAA may grant us the ability to finish off spring ball in June, but this time is for us to find creative ways to teach our guys.”


Installing a game plan will be something to consider with this new talent. Will the defense be as complex in year’s past or will Scalley need to adjust looks on the defense that can confuse the opposing offense but still be simple enough, at least early on, for the new players to play without thinking about what to do but instead react.

“It all has to do with the brain-power of the guys coming in and what they can absorb and soak in. We have to have a pretty good feel for when we are installing stuff early, and what is their ability to take it from the film to the field. A lot of what we do is just disguise… the more we can show the quarterback pre-snap the same look over and over again and then give them different movements after the snap the better off we are. That way we can keep it simple but make it look like we have a lot of different stuff.”

This will be one of the toughest jobs for Scalley in his time running Utah’s defense. The Utes are probably going to be considered one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 South for the third-straight year but a lot of it will rely on Scalley getting this young defense to a level that is championship caliber.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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