Whittingham, Utes Continue To Take Positive Steps Forward In Spring

Apr 12, 2022, 8:12 PM
Kyle Whittingham - Utah Utes - Oregon Ducks...
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks the sideline as Utah and Oregon play an NCAA football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY- The Utes had their first scrimmage of spring ball last Saturday and by all accounts things went well. A few position groups of concern took steps forward according to head coach Kyle Whittingham, and so now it is all about building consistency and confidence for the team.

First Scrimmage Notables

Once again, several of Utah’s freshmen earned high praise from Whittingham but this time for their efforts in Saturday’s scrimmage. A lot of the usual suspects were listed speaking volumes about the quality of the Utes signing class of 2022.

“It was a very good scrimmage overall,” Whittingham said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but some guys are really starting to show up. Jaylon Glover our running back, Lander Barton the linebacker, Justin Medlock. A lot of the younger guys are starting to make their presence known.”

Whittingham says the quarterback room was also a standout in Saturday’s scrimmage. However, Whittingham also said they weren’t has sharp in Tuesday’s practice- something they will look to improve on Thursday.

“Good stuff in the scrimmage on Saturday, too many incompletions today,” Whittingham said. “We weren’t accurate today and those are drive killers. We missed wide open throws and had to punt the football. They did a nice job Saturday, not so good today, but they will bounce back Thursday and have a better day.”

Wide Receiver News

Admittedly, Whittingham said the coaching staff have been waiting to see something from the wide receiver group through spring, and they came through during Saturday’s scrimmage.

“They are coming along,” Whittingham said. “We have a few we can really count on. We need a few more to emerge, but the tight ends are proven commodities. They played great football for us last year and we do have some really good wide receivers. They just need to step up and make plays which they did on Saturday. That was maybe the highlight of the entire scrimmage.”

While the Utes are still waiting on further development from the receivers, one thing they are certain of are the guys paving the path for the younger group.

“Devaughn Vele and Solo Enis are the guys who are the leaders of that group,” Whittingham said. “They have the most experience. Jaylen Dixon made a bunch of plays on Saturday which was great to see. Those two guys are really the leaders.”

Spirited Practice

The energy was high during the media observation period. At times too high for what the situation called for. During one point of practice, the coaching staff had the players “take a break” by running laps before returning back to practicing their situations.

“You get in situations where it’s not live and it’s up-tempo, particularly when you go short yardage or goal line and it starts to get competitive,” Whittingham said. “That’s not the point of the drill. The point is the mechanics at the goal line, packages and not having bodies on the ground. Sometimes you have to get their attention and that’s what we did.”

Special Teams Still Working On Being Special

While things by all accounts and appearances are going well for the Utes through spring, it doesn’t mean there aren’t items the coaches are still looking to adjust or see improvement from. One such area Whittingham brought up is special teams- a group that regularly had glitches through the 2021 season despite having been a strength in the Utes early years in the Pac-12.

“Special teams is still something until we get it completely solidified,” Whittingham said. “It’s a concern. Like I said about the receivers, there were some concerns but Saturday they put a lot of those to rest. They do have to come back and do it again this week. It can’t just be a one time thing, but I think every position group is coming along fairly well. The main issue right now, to me is special teams.”

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Whittingham, Utes Continue To Take Positive Steps Forward In Spring