There were times last year when Tyron Morris-Edwards thought he knew his assignments inside and out, only to discover the game moved faster than he did.
"Seeing something on paper and studying it is a lot different than doing it in a game or practice," he admitted.
This year, the junior safety is determined he won't come up short.
Morris-Edwards has put in extra work to bring his game up to speed, and so far, his efforts are paying off.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Morris-Edwards has pushed ahead of senior Quade Chappuis at the strong safety spot.
Morris-Edwards played in nine games last year, finishing with 16 tackles. The way things are going, he'll have a bigger role in 2013, even with the Utes welcoming Tevin Carter, a transfer from L.A. Southwest College who is expected to push for a starting role.
The Utes also have Brian Blechen available, but plans are to play the senior at linebacker if possible. So far, Morris-Edwards and the other safeties have been strong enough that coach Kyle Whittingham will get his wish of having Blechen at linebacker.
"He has been having a very good spring for us," Whittingham said.
Morris-Edwards said his extra effort in studying has helped, as has Utah's simplification of the defense.
"Everything is a lot easier when you know your stuff," he said. "You just have to go play ball."
The Utes have a full day of events planned for Saturday's Red-White game, scheduled for 1 p.m.
The Utes will have an Ultimate Tailgate Championship starting at 6 a.m., an 11 a.m. MUSS Flag football game and a noon Alumni flag football game. Safeties coach Morgan Scalley will coach the Red team, and tight ends/special teams coach Jay Hill will coach the White team.
The game will feature 10-minute quarters with a normal clock in the first half and a running clock in the second half. There won't be any punt or kickoff returns.
While there are no limitations on what the offense can run, the defense is limited to playing "base defense."
A battle for fall
Even though senior Kelvin York hasn't been at full strength due to a lingering toe injury, Utah hasn't seen its talent level dip at the running back spot. If anything, the Utes are closing out their spring practice feeling good about the position as senior Karl Williams, sophomore James Poole and junior Lucky Radley have all had strong sessions.
Whittingham said the battle between all four backs is a close one and that the Utes could play as many as four backs next season.
"There are a lot of ways we can use them besides just in the backfield," he said. "We will try to maximize the talent we have."
The Utes also signed four backs, including junior college transfer Devontae Booker, who will add to the competition in the fall, Whittingham said.
"That position has a lot of depth," he said.
On the tube
Utah's spring game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network along with all the other spring games going on in the league. Usually teams covet tape of opponents, but Whittingham said there isn't much value to the spring tapes for scouting purposes since the session is considered more of a teaching session for up-and-coming players rather than one based on strategy.
P At Rice-Eccles Stadium
Kickoff • Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network