Anyone worried that Utah quarterback Travis Wilson’s ankle injury was more serious than previously thought can rest easy. The sophomore is fine. The same could be said for Utah’s offense.
Wilson, who has seen only light work in camp this week due to a mild ankle sprain, had his best day yet during the Utes’ final scrimmage Saturday.
Wilson went 12 of 18 for 281 yards and two touchdowns to be the highlight in what coach Kyle Whittingham called a scrimmage with “a lot of positives.”
“We still have some polishing up to do, but overall it was a good work day,” he said.
Utah’s coaches plan to use tape of the scrimmage to help them settle several position battles. Two of those spots, the backup running back and backup quarterback, have leaders in James Poole and Adam Schulz.
Poole had eight rushes for 37 yards and a touchdown Saturday, while starter Kelvin York had 11 carries for 18 yards and two touchdowns.
Schulz was 5 of 8 for 58 yards and a touchdown, and freshman Conner Manning was 8 of 12 for 70 yards and a touchdown. Wilson took the majority of the snaps.
Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson said he couldn’t have been happier with Wilson’s effort.
“He is throwing it accurately and he knows what is going on,” he said.
With coaches publicly questioning his leadership qualities and fans worrying about whether they had another injury-prone Jordan Wynn on their hands, Wilson said he wanted to use the scrimmage as an opportunity to show everyone everything is fine.
“It’s the last live scrimmage until the game, and I wanted to make a good impression,” he said.
Both Erickson and Wilson said the Utes still need to work on the passing game.
“We need to make sure our tempo is up there fast and we are eliminating stupid little false starts and mistakes,” Wilson said.
Dres Anderson led the receivers with three catches for 92 yards and a touchdown, and Sean Fitzgerald had three catches for 43 yards.
Tight ends Westlee Tonga and Jake Murphy both had two catches. Tonga totaled 26 yards and a touchdown, while Murphy finished with 125 yards, including one catch for 82 yards.
Erickson later emphasized the Utes will be using both tight ends extensively, adding he’d never had two with the talent of Tonga and Murphy.
The big news of the day defensively was the presence of Brian Blechen. He has been limited in practice with knee tendinitis and is in danger of losing his starting linebacker position.
He had the day’s only interception.
The Utes had another scrimmage scheduled next week, but with the opener against Utah State less than two weeks away, Utah will use the session as an ordinary practice, Whittingham said.
“We’re close, but we’re not there yet,” he said.
What we learned • Travis Wilson showed no ill effects of limited practices. He had his best day of camp in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Who stood out • Tight ends Westlee Tonga and Jake Murphy continue to be the stars of Utah’s offense.
What needs to improve • The one negative against Utah’s offense was mistakes in the red zone, something that must be improved, coach Kyle Whittingham said.