To paraphrase a popular sentiment on Tribune comments, Twitter and local radio, Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson can’t throw more than 10 yards downfield.
Sorry, popular sentiment, but you’re wrong.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has said that Travis Wilson is the better thrower of the two quarterbacks, but both threw the ball accurately during the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s early practice, and Thompson may have had the day’s best toss: a 30-yard in-stride throw to well-covered sophomore Dominique Hatfield, who caught it and tapped a foot down on the left sideline.
That Thompson hasn’t gone deep very often may have more to do with Utah’s offensive strategy than the limitations of his arm.
"The offense has been simplified in a lot of respects in the throw game," Whittingham said Saturday morning. "The ball’s coming out quicker, and the routes are designed for more quick-gain stuff."
Many of those "quick-gain" throws are coming when a run play has been called, but the quarterback doesn’t like the look of the defense, Whittingham said.
Wilson had highlights of his own in the first of two Saturday practices, to include a rollout, across-his-body throw to Westlee Tonga (an apparent favorite target of his) across the middle. Redshirt freshman Conner Manning also pump-faked and found a wide-open Kenric Young for a long touchdown.
Utah’s No. 1 free and strong safeties, Tevin Carter and Brian Blechen, were given the day off Saturday. Notably, Carter donned the boot that fans saw him wear all spring while recovering from a foot injury.
The boot is a precaution, Whittingham said, and he hopes it will be off Monday.
"We don’t want to wear them out. Tevin’s coming off a surgery and Blechen has had the chronic problem with the knee, so we give them the day off, it gives those younger safeties the chance to progress and play, and they did a nice job."
Whittingham spotlighted freshmen Marcus Williams and Andre Godfrey, in particular. Williams — one of the team’s best athletes — will likely be a free safety, and Godfrey, more of a physical presence, will likely be a strong safety.
Junior wideout Kenneth Scott wore a yellow jersey to indicate no-contact on Saturday, but defensive lineman Jason Fanaika was seeing red.
When Scott caught a pass and turned toward the middle of the field, the 270-pounder leveled Scott — who dusted himself off and returned to his feet without any major delay.
"Sometimes you have a little bit of a brain lock, and don’t do the right thing on defense, but he’s alright," Whittingham said.
In case you missed it, as maybe Fanaika did, Scott and senior Dres Anderson are considered proven and are not expected to be "live" very often this fall.
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