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Utes football camp round-up: Travis Wilson finds his groove
There have been times this spring where Travis Wilson has looked like he spent four months away from football.
Which, of course, he did.
On Saturday, the junior quarterback approached his old form with quick decisions and accurate throws, taking what the defense gave him and moving the chains.
It wasn't perfect: He had one pass batted down. There were a few plays where he'd have likely been sacked, including one during a two-minute drill that brought a reprimand from offensive coordinator Dave Christensen. Another time, Utah senior defensive end Nate Orchard pulled him down and Wilson chucked the ball at his head.
But on the whole, he's getting better.
In fact, all four Utah quarterbacks seemed to loosen up in the second week of spring camp. Saturday was notable for the touch shown on home-run passes from Wilson, junior Adam Schulz and redshirt freshman Conner Manning. It was also apparent that quarterbacks are going to have to make quicker decisions when they become "live," as a high percentage of plays ended with a defensive lineman patting their jersey and a quick whistle from coaches.
Excepting goal-line work, in which the offense had its way, Utah's running backs found the going tougher than they did earlier this week. Redshirt freshman Troy McCormick broke a couple of decent runs, but junior Devontae Booker — the gold-star winner three straight times in Kyle Whittingham's post-practice interview — fumbled once and also took a brutal hit from junior linebacker Gionni Paul
The biggest news Saturday is that senior linebacker Jacoby Hale tore his ACL in Thursday's practice and will have surgery. Read more about Hale's injury here.
OFFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT • Tie: sophomore Brian Allen's one-handed catch of a 40-yard Wilson pass after getting a step on sophomore corner Reginald Porter, and senior Dres Anderson's pinball grab of Wilson's bullet over a middle that seemed to bounce off some combination of him, sophomore cornerback Justin Thomas and senior cornerback Davion Orphey before Anderson finally plucked it and took it the distance.
DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT • The least junior safety Charles Henderson can do Saturday night is bring some frozen peas to Anderson and sophomore Delshawn McClellon. It sounded like a car accident when Henderson smashed into the Ute receivers, and his hit on Anderson caused him to drop a pass near the sideline. (Or so it seemed to this reporter — the practice official ruled it a catch despite an emotional protest from Paul.)
STANDOUT • Sophomore wide receiver Dominique Hatfield stands just 5'10, 170, but the Los Angeles native showed impressive speed and jumping ability to snatch two deep passes from Schulz. Hatfield is behind senior Geoffrey Norwood on the two-deep and he has appeared to make a strong case thus far for inclusion with the ones.
KEEP AN EYE ON • Redshirt freshman Clarence Smith. Listed as a linebacker, the redshirt freshman who turned 18 earlier this month weighs 231 pounds — 14 heavier than last year — and was working with the defensive line Saturday. Smith picked off a batted pass from Schulz for an early highlight on his pass-rushing highlight reel.
QUOTE OF THE DAY • Christensen, explaining where tight ends may line up in his offense: "Boundary one, boundary two, attached to the boundary, a wing into the boundary, a wing to the field, attached to the field, field three, field two, field one. Does that all make sense?" (No, but I told him I'd Google it.)
— Matthew Piper