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What Training Camp Will Look Like For Utah Football

The University of Utah football team opens spring camp at the Eccles Football Facility practice fields in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 2, 2020. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah football will begin their 4-week training camp on Friday, October 9 and it will be completely different than in years past.

The Utes will have four weeks to prepare for their 2020 season opener on November 7 when they host Arizona at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

This is a very important training not just because of the pandemic that canceled spring football practice after three sessions, but also because the coaches have a short amount of time to get a young roster prepared to play power-5 football. All practices are closed to the public.

Like every coach in the country, Kyle Whittingham is treading through unchartered waters.

“Particularly with the fact that we’ve had several months where we’ve been able to get some things done on the field,” Whittingham said. “We haven’t been, you know, in any contact situations or anything like that, but at least we’ve been on the field and doing skill instruction and fundamental and technique work. I’m confident that our guys will be adequately prepared. Now, you know, how we play is anybody’s best guess but as far as the preparation time, I think it’s more than adequate for what we’ve had. Now, I know a lot of schools in the Pac-12 have not had as much opportunity to spend time with their players in the weight room, in the meeting room on the field as we have, you know, there’s been a handful, I think it’s about 50/50, I think about half the schools have been able to do, you know, similar routine to us, and then probably half the schools have had very limited access. As far as our own situation, we feel like we’re in a good spot right now.”

Training Camp Layout

The Utes will begin training camp on Friday, October 9 and will end on either Friday, October 30 or Saturday, October 31. They will hold two scrimmages on Saturday, October 17 and Saturday, October 24.

The big challenge for Whittingham is finding the balance of getting the guys ready and not putting them through too much contact.

“That’s something that we haven’t done for almost a year,” Whittingham mentioned. “As per NCAA rules, we won’t be able to do any hitting the first couple days of camp those are non padded days. So, Friday and Saturday will be non-contact practices. Then the following week, we get to put the uppers on the shoulder pads for two days, and then we go to full gear that fifth day.

“So, we’ve got to be smart about how we do it. You don’t want to go into the season underprepared,” Whittingham added. “There’s a sweet spot that we’re going to try to hit. It’s no different this year than any year other than it’s been an extended period of time that we haven’t had contact this particular year. We’ve got to monitor that closely. We feel like we need to get at least two full scrimmages in prior to playing in the first ball game, those will probably occur on Saturdays, probably three weeks out from the game, and then two weeks out from the game would be those two scrimmages. That’s the best indication I gave you right now. And then along with that, during the course, you know, inter spurts throughout practices, some live sessions there as well. So those scrimmages won’t be the only live work we have. We’ve got to make sure we don’t overdo it but you got to make sure you’re ready. I mean, if you go into a game not ready to play, from a physical standpoint, that’s not a good thing.”

Keeping Players, Staff Safe During Camp

The biggest challenge Whittingham and his coaching staff will face this season is keeping their players and staff safe. Whittingham feels the medical staff at Utah has done a great job putting protocols in place.

“I think our medical staff here has done as good a job as could possibly have been done,” stated Whittingham. “Getting that all the protocols put in place and the testing structure and and I think we’re probably one of the better schools in the country. I don’t have any data to back that up. But as far as you know, the positive test for COVID have been way down and I think we’ve done an outstanding job with that.”

The coaches and medical staff have to track where the players have been throughout the day and know who they are around.

“You got to consider everything factor everything in who the guy is live with, who they’re around, who they eat with, where their locker is, you know, where they sit in the position meeting room. I mean, it’s all got to be choreographed as best you can,” Whittingham added. “Also, on top of that, these guys have a lot more free time than they’ve ever had with online classes and not being tied to a structure and a routine of when you get to show up for class and that type of thing that there’s a lot more free time and you get to make sure that they handle that the right way and put themselves in good situations and stay out of bad situations. Not only with COVID, but with everything else that’s out there. I think our guys have handled themselves very well. We’re not perfect but I think we’ve done a good job. It’s been a challenge. because these are things that we’ve never had to deal with before at least not to this extent. I think we’ve handled as about as well as we could have so far.”

Catch all the latest from the Utes in training camp, here.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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