Instant Reactions From Utah’s 22 Forever Spring Game

Apr 22, 2023, 2:47 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah football wrapped up their 2023 spring practices with the 22 Forever Spring Game Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Utes separated into a red team and white team to showcase the work they put in for the past five weeks to fans before taking a break through the month of May. The White team, mostly led by Brandon Rose won the day in pretty convincing fashion, 38-28.

While it can be tough to take away too much from a spring game, here are a few instant takeaways from Utah’s 22 Forever Spring Game.

Ja’Quinden Jackson

Jackson probably had the most dominant performance of anyone likely to play in the upcoming 2023 season. While he only ran three times for 17 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s contest, he did show something new- nice hands. Jackson pulled in an impressive two passes for 52 yards.

The Backup QBs

All three guys had their moments throughout the game, though it is also apparent there is still some work to be done when it comes to accuracy and consistency. Still, it does feel like Utah has something to work with here.

Bryson Barnes finished his day first going 2-3 for 60 yards. Barnes’ best play of the day was a pass to tight end Hayden Erickson for 27 yards and the first down.

Nate Johnson was 4-7 for 43 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Mack Howard rounded out the Red team lineup going 1-3 for 60 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

For the White team, Luke Bottari was 4-6 for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Brandon Rose got the most work of any of the quarterbacks in Saturday’s contest and overall looked pretty good doing it. Rose finished the day 19-24 for 233 yards and one touchdown. His best play was a 26-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Money Parks.

The Top Pass Catchers You Might See Come Fall

From the pass-catching standpoint, a lot of the starters you’ll see come fall were sitting out. Tight end Brant Kuithe, and wide receiver Devaughn Vele did not compete out on the field in Saturday’s 22 Forever Game.

However, two guys who have been mentioned a lot throughout spring took the wide-open opportunity to show what they have to work with and made the most of it. Money Parks and Mikey Matthews both had good showings with Parks finishing the day with five catches for 71 yards and one touchdown. Matthews brought in seven catches for 59 yards.

The Defensive Plays

Obviously, the defense couldn’t get too nasty with it in today’s scrimmage, but there were still some impressive playmakers who will likely be seeing some time this fall making noise.

Freshman safety Johnathan Hall pulled down one interception early in the spring game. Linebacker Justin Medlock made a heads-up play scooping up a key fumble for the Red team. Cornerback transfer Miles Battle maybe had the defensive play of the game coming down with a pick six thrown by Mack Howard to ice the game for the White team.

Improved Kicking Game

It was not the prettiest of kicks, and it seemed like someone got a hand on it, but it is worth noting Cole Becker was good for a 46-yard field goal for the White team towards the end of the first half.

After years of having a solid kicking game, the Utes have struggled a bit in that department, making it nice to see they maybe finally have someone with the range to put points on the board from some distance.

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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Instant Reactions From Utah’s 22 Forever Spring Game