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Utah football: Spring ball scrimmage to test Utes' offense

Published April 6, 2012 10:06 pm

Utah football notes • Freshman QBs will likely see action with deep group of receivers.
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The Utes have talked about how explosive they feel their offense is going to be in 2012. Saturday's scrimmage should give an idea of just who the players are who are going to make it dangerous.

The Utes plan to get in about 90 snaps in the scrimmage from 10 a.m. to noon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham called Saturday's scrimmage and the one scheduled for April 14 the most important days of spring ball.

Since the emphasis is on finding playmakers, proven guys such as running back John White and defensive lineman Star Lotulelei aren't expected to participate in many drills.

As for the quarterbacks, Whittingham said starter Jordan Wynn will get the most reps and freshmen Travis Wilson and Chase Hansen probably will get an equal number.

Wynn said he feels he has a deep group of receivers he can work with.

"Each one of them has something unique about them," he said. "I'm excited to see what we can get done this year."

Back and forth

Junior Brian Blechen is slated as the starting strong safety, but Whittingham hasn't ruled out the possibility that Blechen could see some time at linebacker.

Blechen played safety as a freshman, then moved to linebacker last year. However, he was moved back to safety before the midpoint of the season to bolster that position.

He finished the year with an all-Pac-12 honorable mention and was third on the team with 78 tackles, tied for eighth in the Pac-12 in interceptions with three, and tied for fifth in the Pac-12 in forced fumbles with three.

Now, with young players in both spots, Whittingham said Blechen would remain a fluid player in Utah's scheme.

Such a role fits Blechen just fine. He knows as a seasoned player he must act as a defensive leader, but he likes how the other players are developing.

"We are way ahead of where we were last year," he said. "It's not just stuff on the field. Guys are getting in the weight room, reading playbooks and doing all that stuff. We are going strong, but we want to keep increasing throughout the season."

Work in progress

Senior Keith McGill was switched this season from safety to corner, where he is still learning the nuances of the position but is making progress, Whittingham said.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound McGill, whose 2011 season was cut short when he suffered a shoulder injury against Arizona State, has a frame that reminds Whittingham of former Ute Sean Smith.

"He has exceptionally long arms," Whittingham said. "It's still a work in progress over there. It's a whole new skill set he has to learn, and he is working hard."

Senior Mo Lee is slated to start ahead of McGill at left corner.

lwodraska@sltrib.comTwitter: @lyawodraska