Utah football: Better depth leads to numerous position battles
Utah fans must wait several more weeks to see if Utah's improved recruiting pays off with more wins.
But judging by what he sees on the field, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham feels the Utes' overall fortunes are improving.
Utah's first two days of preseason camp have opened up more personnel battles and not closed any, which is just what Whittingham wants.
"Across the board with this football team we have good depth and that has created a healthy situation with competition at just about every position," he said. "I was watching the O-line today and it's a luxury, the sheer numbers we have who could play."
The Utes feel they have about 17 guys who can play along the offensive line. As for the position battles, the Utes are looking at several candidates for the linebackers. The cornerbacks likewise are undecided and the running back depth chart is crowded behind starter Kelvin York.
James Poole and Karl Williams are penciled in as York's backups, but the coaches also like what freshman Troy McCormick has done in practice.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder has surprised the coaches with his receiving abilities and could earn a role as a slot guy, Whittingham said.
All of the competition has put the pressure on several players, such as senior cornerback Keith McGill, who is practicing his way into shape.
"By no means has Keith got that job locked down," Whittingham said. "Justin Thomas, Reggie Porter, Davion Orphey has improved and gotten himself into shape, and Hipolito Corporan, a true freshman, is doing some good things. We have six or seven guys who are working hard."
Whittingham wants to eventually see some separation, but for now he is happy to let the battles continue.
Utah senior linebacker Brian Blechen continues to be slowed by many of the injuries that hampered him in spring.
Whittingham said his absence is "disappointing," and added the trainers oversee how many reps he can handle since the injuries are related to overuse.
"Mentally it's not an issue, as far as that goes," he said. "He's one tough kid. You know if he isn't out there he is a football junkie and for him not to be out there is tough."
In the pit
Freshman quarterback Micah Thomas joined receiver Andre Lewis and offensive lineman Carlos Lozano on the sidelines with a pulled hamstring.
Who was hot • Receiver Dres Anderson and defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi both had solid efforts Tuesday.
Who was not • Linebacker Brian Blechen continues to be slowed by the injuries that hampered him in spring.