Five Questions For Utah Football To Answer During Spring Practices

Mar 16, 2022, 12:45 PM
Kyle Whittingham vs. Weber State 2021...
Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the University of Utah Utes walks the sideline during a game against the Weber State Wildcats September 2, 2021 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Spring practices are right around the corner for the Utah football program as they look to build on a historic 2021 season.

With that historic season in the books, Utah football has a few questions that need to be answered as they get going in their spring practices. The Utes will begin spring practices on Tuesday, March 22 and will end the spring session with the red/white game on Saturday, April 23 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Here are five questions that need to be answered during spring football.

#1 Backup QB Position

It seems like a question that isn’t really that important when you first look at it but after what transpired in the Rose Bowl has raised some questions. Since Cam Rising took over as the starting QB spot early in the 2021 season, the backup was always Ja’Quinden Jackson. That was until the Rose Bowl game when Rising went down with an injury and Kyle Whittingham inserted Bryson Barnes as the signal caller.

Add highly-touted recruit Nate Johnson to the QB room and with Jackson and Barnes returning, who will be the No. 2 guy? In sports, you are one play away from needing to use your backup. It will be interesting to see how the backups perform in the spring.

#2 No. 2 Cornerback Position

The Utes have an established No. 1 shutdown cornerback in Clark Phillips III, you know what you are getting with him. What’s in question is the opposite outside starting cornerback. JaTravis Broughton was that guy to start the 2021 season before going out with a season-ending injury against BYU. Then Faybian Marks suffered a season-ending injury against Arizona, followed by a season-ending injury to Zemaiah Vaughn in the Pac-12 Championship game.

That thinned out Utah’s depth at corner and forced the coaching staff to put running back Micah Bernard as the starting cornerback in the Rose Bowl. So, what’s the health status for Broughton, Marks and Vaughn?

#3 Linebackers

There isn’t one single person on Utah’s roster that can fully replace Devin Lloyd but they have the pieces to do so by committee. Colton Swan has a very talented group that will force him to make some tough decisions in August. With both Lloyd and Sewell heading to the NFL, it’s going to be fun to see how the linebacker spot shapes out.

Karene Reid, Lander Barton, Mohamoud Diabate, Justin Medlock, Andrew Mata’afa, Ethan Calvert, Mason Tufaga, among many others are in line to compete for the two starting spots. Gabe Reid is also an option if the Utes choose to use him in that position.

#4 Who Will Fill Out The RB Depth?

Tavion Thomas is coming back for another season, while Micah Bernard will return after a strong 2021 campaign. The Utes did a great job of using three running backs last season and with T.J. Pledger off to the NFL, that leaves one spot open in the rotation. Ricky Parks, Jaylon Glover and Chris Curry are potential tailbacks that will look to crack the roation.

#5 Who Will Step Up At WR?

It’s very difficult to find a player like Britain Covey to replace, he’s a one of a kind talent. Utah’s offense showed that they are going to throw the ball more. Eventually, Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid will not get as many looks as defenses adjust. Solomon Enis is a reliable receiver that will be in the mix. Jaylen Dixon, Money Parks, Munir McClain are back with the program. The Utes also signed Ryan Peppins, Sidney Mbanasor, Tao Johnson and Chris Reed.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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Five Questions For Utah Football To Answer During Spring Practices