Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham continues to walk the line between getting his team full-speed work and trying to keep players healthy as the team looks ahead to its season opener on Thursday, Aug. 31 against North Dakota.
Whittingham said following Thursday morning’s practice that Saturday’s first full-team intrasquad scrimmage will be likely only be full-speed in segments (players slotted third or lower on the depth chart scrimmaged last Saturday).
“It’s not going to be live the entire time,” Whittingham said. “There will be a few segments that are live. We’re getting to the point where we be real careful with how much physicality there can be because we’re starting to close in on game time.”
Whittingham said it will be important to get players acclimated to the “mechanics” of subbing in and out of the the game and the transitions from offense and defense to special teams.
“I feel like whenever the quarterback is live, the defense gets a little bit more eager out there – just to hit the QB,” Utes senior quarterback Troy Williams said. “That’s really the big thing that I would see, and the defense out there making tackles. A lot of times guys get frustrated from the tag off. It will be good to get some live work out there and see if we can make guys miss.”
Waiting on separation
First-year offensive coordinator Troy Taylor said he’s hasn’t seen clear enough gaps between the performance of the quarterbacks to elevate one of the other on the depth chart.
“I’m really not dodging it,” Taylor said. “I know you guys want more than I’m giving you, but it goes back and forth. They’re all really close. In some ways, I wish there was more separation to make it easier. In other ways, there’s three guys that I think we could win with any of them.”
Senior Troy Williams started all 13 games last season and ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in passing yards (2,757). Sophomore Tyler Huntley remains in the running largely due to athleticism and ability to make plays with his legs. Huntley and Williams have taken the majority of the snaps with the first offense, but Taylor included graduate transfer Cooper Bateman when referring to the three options at quarterback.
Odds and ends
Receiver-turned-cornerback Kenric Young made an interception in the team portion of practice open to the media on Thursday. The interception prompted Young, a high-energy senior known for being talkative in the field, to raise his volume. Following practice, Whittingham said Young’s switch to corner has become a permanent change. … There’s no change in the status of junior college signees Tareke Lewis, a defensive back from Palatka, Fla., and Derrick Vickers, a wide receiver from Bakersfield, Calif. Both still have academic and administrative hurdles to clear before they can enroll and join the team. … Late addition Josh Nurse, who spent last season as a walk-on wide receiver at Blinn College, has been moved to free safety on an experimental basis this week.