Utah Football: Both QBs excel in vital scrimmage (video)
Most people who have recently avoided collisions with large men, if they've thought about it at all, are grateful for the fact.
Travis Wilson isn't most people.
For the first time that media have observed since doctors found an intracranial artery condition last November, Wilson was a live target for Utah defenders at Saturday's scrimmage.
And he relished it.
"In fact, he was too aggressive," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "You want to be smart when you're running the ball as a quarterback, you want to be physical, but you want to take as few direct shots as possible. You want to get in those cracks of daylight and dive."
Wilson was a kid in a candy store, however. He said that when he's off-limits, "it's just tough because if the defender gets close, coach Whittingham will blow the whistle and call it a sack, so I definitely feel like, when we're live, we're able to make more plays and extend more plays."
Accounts are that he did so Saturday, going 11 for 22 for 145 yards and two touchdown strikes one for 18 yards to Andre Lewis and another for 38 yards to Kenric Young. He threw one interception, but offensive coordinator Dave Christensen said afterward that the pick was due to a busted route.
Despite taking the day's lone sack, a 9-yard loss, he rushed 11 times for 53 yards and a 6-yard touchdown.
"Felt like I laid everything out there today," Wilson said. "Hopefully the coaches will see that, too. But either way, whatever happens, happens, and I know they'll pick the right guy to be the starter."
Oh, right. The starter.
Coaches do not have an enviable task this weekend. As much as it was a triumphant return to public combat for Wilson, it was a breakout day for his challenger, Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson.
Thompson's accuracy numbers 8 for 18 with one pick weren't otherworldly, but he passed for 129 yards and two touchdowns, including a 65-yard strike to tight end Siale Fakailoatonga, and he rushed for 89 yards on eight carries.
On one such occasion, while onlookers fawned, he fell forward after contact at the line of scrimmage and caught his balance before racing to the left sideline and 44 yards to the end zone.
"That's something that I thrive on," Thompson said. "When the protection breaks down, you just have to go make something happen."
Now the coaches will head into the film room to hit play, pause and rewind until they can decide, with a high degree of finality, who will enter the 2014 season as their starter. Whittingham said that call will be made by Monday.
"We've got to start tailoring the offense for whoever that starter is," he said.
There might be a situational package for the No. 2 quarterback akin to what Urban Meyer implemented with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow in his first season at Florida but there will be a clear starter.
"It's not going to be an easy call," he said. "They're both quality quarterbacks."
Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake counted himself a "huge fan" of the quarterbacks being made live Saturday.
"It's a good lesson for us to learn before you get to game one and learn it the hard way, because we can't simulate that kind of stuff," he said.
It's probably the last live work in camp, Whittingham said, besides "a few snaps here or there." Without a doubt, it's the last time Thompson or Wilson will be hit.
The competition has made both quarterbacks better, Wilson said. Both say that even if they lose, they don't plan to let up.
"There's always adjustments that can be made," Whittingham said. "It's not like, when we name a starter Monday, it's set for the entire 12-game season."
Passing • Wilson 11-22-1, 145 yards, 2 TDs; Thompson 8-18-1, 129 yards, 2 TDs.
Rushing • Thompson 9 carries, 89 yards, 2 TDs; McCormick 8 carries, 89 yards, 1 TD; Booker 2 carries, 73 yards, 1 TD; Wilson 11 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD; D. Young 7 carries, 24 yards; Poole 2 carries, 7 yards.
Receiving • Fakailoatonga 2 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD; K. Young 1 catch, 38 yards, 1 TD; Patrick 3 catches, 37 yards; Poole 2 catches, 28 yards; Lewis 1 catch, 18 yards, 1 TD; McCormick 1 catch, 18 yards; McClellon 2 catches, 17 yards; Booker 1 catch, 16 yards; Clay 1 catch, 13 yards, 1 TD; Moeai 1 catch, 13 yards; Hatfield 2 catches, 6 yards.
Kicking • Phillips 3-4 FG, good from 41, 41, 43, wide left from 52.
Sacks • Gonzalez 1 (-9).
Tackles for loss • Dimick 1 (-2), Borg 1 (-1), Allen 0.5 (-1.5), Gonzalez 1.5 (-10.5), Smith 0.5 (-1), Seabrook 0.5 (-1), Freeman 1 (-1).
Interceptions • Gonzalez 1 (2-yard return; Eggiman 1 (32-yard return).
Pass breakups • Seabrook, Hobbs, Reese and Hughes all had 1.