Red All Over: Utes have answered a lot of questions about themselves during this preseason camp. Fans should be encouraged.

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham watches during the game at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday, October 21, 2017.

Red All Over is our weekly newsletter on all things Utah athletics, with stories from The Salt Lake Tribune, and other local and national media outlets who are weighing on on the Utes. Subscribe here.

The Utah Utes are two weeks away from their first football game of 2018. That’s exciting, for those of us who spend eight months of the year waiting for this stuff.

And then the season flies by, of course, but that's a problem for another day.

Today marks the reintroduction of The Salt Lake Tribune’s newsletter covering University of Utah Athletics. I’ll use this medium as a chance to share some observations, connect with fans and highlights the stories that I, my Tribune colleagues and others have written about the Utes lately.

I encourage your questions and suggestions via email (kkragthorpe@sltrib.com) and Twitter (@tribkurt).

This should be a fun season to cover Utah football. The Utes are loaded with talent, the only asterisk — as I’ve been pointing out for months — being a conference schedule that sends them against the top three teams from the Pac-12 North — Washington, Oregon and Stanford.

My biggest questions about the Utes' personnel have been answered through 13 practices. The receiving corps definitely has improved, with Demari Simpkins, Britain Covey and Siaosi Mariner looking particularly good. I wondered about pass protection early in camp, but offensive coordinator Troy Taylor was happy with that aspect in the team’s first scrimmage last week.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Receiver Britain Covey, #18, tries to clear his cover from Tareke Lewis, #5, as the Utah football team takes to the practice field for day one of the season on Wed. Aug. 1, 2018.

I’ll also say I may have underestimated BYU transfer Francis Bernard’s ability to make an impact this season, amid Utah’s deep linebacking corps. He looked good in the media-viewing portion of Wednesday’s practice, his first day in pads.

Monday's start of Utah's 2018-19 academic calendar makes Saturday the official end of camp, with the Utes launching their weekly routine for the season. The first game is not until the following Thursday, Aug. 30 vs. Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Food for thought

This month, I've tried to do a mixture of stories, from player profiles to strategic elements of the game. These subjects have been my favorites:

• I’ve said that access to Britain Covey’s quotes is the No. 1 reason I accepted the Ute assignment, and I was only partly kidding. A story about Covey after the first day of practice was a little gift to myself, sort of like the times I would cover hockey during the Winter Olympics. Here’s Brit on living up to expectations in his return to the program. (Tribune)

• The zone read, especially when quarterback Tyler Huntley keeps the ball, is a big issue for many Ute fans. Many people just wish the play-call would be designed to give the ball to Zack Moss. In this piece, coaches explain why the option element is vital to combat modern defenses. And Huntley acknowledges he maybe should have handed off the ball more often last season. (Tribune)

• My colleague Christopher Kamrani jumped on a subject that came up during the Pac-12 Media Day, when coach Kyle Whittingham talked about Lewis Powell’s becoming the program’s international recruiter. He landed Australian tight end Thomas Yassmin, about whom I’ll have more to say later this week. (Tribune)

• If you read this story about the new kickoff rule, you’ll be able to impress your friends the first time Covey or another Ute fair-catches a kickoff at his own 5-yard line, and they wonder why. (Tribune)

• Redshirt freshman Nick Ford is a fun guy to interview, with a good story of how he went from 160 pounds as a high school freshman to double that weight in just five years. (Tribune)

Other voices

• Circling back to Moss, Amy Donaldson of the Deseret News collected some good insight from his teammates. (DNews)

• And speaking of Australians, punter Mitch Wishnowsky made Sports Illustrated’s preseason All-America team. Kicker Matt Gay is on the second team. (SI)

Looking ahead

There’s more to discuss between now and Aug. 30, such as Gary Andersen’s role in his return to the program and how Gay’s extended field-goal range will create some dilemmas for Whittingham.

Red All Over is our weekly newsletter on all things Utah athletics, with stories from The Salt Lake Tribune, and other local and national media outlets who are weighing on on the Utes. Subscribe here.