Kyle Whittingham On Pleasant Surprises Ahead Of 22 Forever Game
Apr 18, 2023, 8:13 PM
SALT LAKE CITY – We are in the final week of Utah football’s spring practices and head coach Kyle Whittingham discussed some of the pleasant surprises over the past few weeks ahead of the 22 Forever Game this Saturday.
Utah has a great shot at three-peating in 2023 as conference champions- something that has never been done in the Pac-12-era but will require a lot of work on the Utes’ part to accomplish given the returning depth across the Conference of Champions.
If you missed last week’s Whittingham breakdown, you can review it here. Otherwise, here is what the man in charge had to say about Utah football in the final week of spring ball.
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Some Pleasant Surprises
Spring ball has been full of pleasant surprises for the Utes according to Whittingham who named several players who really impressed on both sides of the ball.
“Offensively, Jaylon Glover has really shown up this spring,” Whittingham said. “Money Parks continues to take steps forward. Falcon Kaumatule right now is running that number one left tackle- he’s had a good spring. Defensively, the usual suspects. Connor O’Toole, Jonah Elliss, Logan Fano has really done a nice job this spring. Linebacker-wise, Justin Medlock has made a bunch of progress. In the secondary, Sione Vaki has picked up where he left off in the fall with his play. Miles Battle has been a good addition at corner.”
On What The 22 Forever Game Means To The Team
It’s no secret the Utes have been greatly affected by the losses of running back Ty Jordan and cornerback Aaron Lowe two years ago. Earlier this year, Whittingham revealed the team planned to rename their spring game to the 22 Forever Game in a continued effort to keep their brother’s memories alive in the program.
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“Those guys are in our thoughts and minds around the clock, year-long,” Whittingham said. “It’s not like we only remember them at certain events- they are always in our thoughts and so it’s just going to be another way to honor them and continue to keep their memory alive.”
The QB2 Battle
Nothing is settled yet, but Whittingham did say he felt Brandon Rose had his best day after Tuesday’s practice. Rose has been leading the charge in spring for the backup quarterback job behind starter Cam Rising and it is sounding like that will remain true at least until fall camp.
“Brandon Rose, I think, we’ll have to watch the tape, but it appeared he had his best day of spring today,” Whittingham said. “He’s continuing to separate himself. Nothing is settled or definitive at this point. We did see Nate Johnson back on the field today and overall, it was a very good practice.”
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As far as what made Tuesday’s practice standout for Rose, Whittingham said it was largely due to improved accuracy and care with the ball.
“He did a nice job handling the elements- it was windy out here but he still completed a bunch of balls,” Whittingham said. “He did a much better job taking charge in the huddle, having that leadership air to him and being a guy who showed a lot of confidence today.”
Despite Rose’s improvement and the experience some of the other backups bring to the table, Whittingham did say he is still looking for further growth of the group as a whole.
“Still need to improve, but they are on the right track,” Whittingham said. “The trajectory is right, right now so we have to keep it up.”
Happy About The Trenches
Spring is just about over and it sounds like the Utes have already found 10 offensive linemen they feel good about heading into summer workouts and fall camp.
“We feel like we are going to come away with 10 guys that we really would not have a problem putting into a game if we needed to,” Whittingham said. “If you can have 10 guys with the offensive line, that gives you a solid two-deep which is what you’re looking for.”
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On the opposite side of the line of scrimmage, the defensive line is also looking solid in Whittingham’s estimation.
“Loaded, loaded,” Whittingham said. “Defensive ends have six deep as do the d-tackles so barring disaster, we should be in good shape at those two spots.”
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports
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