Tuesday can't come soon enough.
Ask Kyle Whittingham about the depth chart: "I don't really evaluate the depth chart too much at this point. I will tomorrow."
Ask him about really any position: "Tomorrow will really give us an idea of where we're at."
Tomorrow, tomorrow, the scrimmage, we're waiting, it's only a day away.
Riffing off what my colleague Matthew Piper wrote in the morning notes, the Utes will have their first scrimmage tomorrow (The final 20 minutes are open to media), and between that and Saturday's scrimmage, the Utes figure to have most of their questions worked out by week's end.
Monday afternoon was an unpadded practice in the outfield of the the Utes baseball facility by Sunnyside Park, working without pads and with some players limited, it was a little more than a drumroll leading to Tuesday's action.
Still, one fun facet was the emphasis on deep passes and red zone offense during team session. Dominique Hatfield came away with a long sideline catch that seems to be a big component in the Dave Christensen offense, and Andre Lewis was one of the big standouts on the day.
Kendal Thompson had a few overthrows in the team session, but arguably had the top highlight when he scrambled right, then circled back left to find Lewis in the end zone. The big receiver outleapt his coverage, taking in the touchdown pass over his head.
The senior also had a nice 35-yard catch from Travis Wilson on a deep sideline route, and he hauled in a bobbled pass over the middle during the final 20 minutes. Of Lewis, Whittingham was complimentary: "He stepped up today and made some plays for us. It was good to see him do that for us. He's a talented kid."
The media sessions seem to have their share, however, of Thompson being forced to scramble. Hunter Dimick very clearly had a "sack" (quarterbacks are non-contact) on one down, while Sese Ianu collapsed the middle of the pocket and would've had a tackle for a loss.
Whittingham said it's a mix of Thompson hanging onto the ball a bit too long, and the line needing to protect a little better. But again: No pads, nothing's for sure.
"It's tough to gauge when you're not in pads with no collisions and stuff like that," he said. "When you go without pads, I think it favors the defensive line."
Dielman, Uhatafe battling at different OL spots • Leka Uhatafe and J.J. Dielman don't play the same position, but Whittingham said the offensive line battle is coming down to those two.
If Dielman wins, he'll play tackle, and Isaac Asiata will play guard. If Uhatafe looks stronger, Asiata will likely shift over to right tackle. Essentially, the Utes feel comfortable starting Asiata however they can, and Dielman and Uhatafe are the other top two candidates behind him. While Jackson Barton and Marc Pouvave have done some promising things in camp, Whittingham said Monday it's likely a mix of those top three.
Uhatafe, a redshirt freshman, has been getting first-string reps at guard lately, and Whittingham said his power lies in his drive blocking on runs. His strength is phenomenal for a younger player. Dielman isn't quite as stout and needs extra weight, but the Utes like his athleticism and footwork.
"Whichever ends up being more solid between Leka and Dielman is going to play next to Isaac - that's probably how it's going to work," Whittingham said.
McClellon, Patrick will be passing game factors • Matt had some quotes this morning about Delshawn McClellon and his improving play. Whittingham also addressed that Monday afternoon.
"He's playing his best football," he said. "The light switch seems to have come on for Delshawn, and we hope it continues."
McClellan is battling alongside Kaelin Clay at the slot receiver spot, and coaches have been praising his increased production out of that spot. The Utes like that he adds to a stable of threats they have for the deep game, which could be a big factor this fall.
"We've got deep threats like Dres and some of the guys we've got running out there like Tim Patrick and Delshawn," Whittingham said. "Those guys really can separate, and that's a big part of what we're doing."
Tevin Carter pulls double duty • On Monday morning, the Utes talked about how they were maintaining caution as his foot injury from spring heals. He wasn't going to do both practices when the Utes have two-a-days.
But hours later, there he was, back in team drills. The senior safety told the staff he was feeling well. OK, so go out and play, they said. He only participated in a few reps at the media observable portion of practice, but those reps go a long way, Whittingham said.
"It's a fine line, but he's new to the program, new to the system, so he's gotta get reps. But by the same token, it does us no good if he's not there for the season."
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