Utah holds final football scrimmage of preseason, QB decision coming as soon as Monday

(Photo courtesy of Utah athletics) Quarterback Jake Bentley takes a snap from center Orlando Umana during Utah's scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.

If you’re waiting for white smoke to appear from the Eccles Football Center, followed by Kyle Whittingham announcing who his starting quarterback is, unfortunately, you’ll be waiting a while longer.

The University of Utah football team conducted a 100-play live scrimmage Saturday afternoon, its second and final extended live session of fall camp. Without the benefit of having looked at the film, Whittingham said shortly after the scrimmage that “we had good play from the quarterbacks, very good, bordering on outstanding.”

That said, the Utes head coach indicated he was not ready to make a decision between Jake Bentley and Cameron Rising, but one is coming. The hope is to have a decision made by Monday, but Whittingham is willing to stretch that timeline out to Wednesday or even Thursday.

Worst-case scenario, a decision on Thursday would give the chosen starter nine days of first-team work before Utah opens Nov. 7 vs. Arizona at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“If we need a few more days, we have that luxury, but Wednesday or Thursday would be absolutely the time that we have to come to a conclusion,” Whittingham said. “If we can get it done on Monday, that’s great, but we’ll see what happens.”

Whenever Whittingham ultimately lands on a starter this week, he is unlikely to announce the choice publicly, at least not right away.

Devin Lloyd, other starters take Saturday off

All-Pac-12 redshirt junior linebacker Devin Lloyd did not take any reps on Saturday, Whittingham essentially calling it a veteran’s day off in order to maintain good health with the opener looming.

Lloyd was joined by junior tight ends Brant Kuithe and Cole Fotheringham, and senior defensive end Mika Tafua as guys who sat out. Viane Moala, the projected starter at right tackle, was limited, per Whittingham, as was left tackle Nick Ford.

Whittingham noted later on the Zoom call that he expects Ford, Utah’s most-versatile offensive lineman, to begin the season at left tackle. There has been some question over this month as to where Ford would ultimately play given he has the ability to kick inside to guard.

Dalton Kincaid’s eligibility could become clear this week

Whittingham is hopeful there will be clarity from the NCAA this week on the eligibility situation of tight end Dalton Kincaid, a junior who transferred in from the University of San Diego after garnering FCS All-American honors as a sophomore in 2019.

If Kincaid is deemed eligible, he could play an immediate role vs. Arizona. Whittingham noted Kincaid has been getting a full workload in practice with other tight ends a little banged up.

“He’s completely ready to go and will be a part of what we’re doing,” Whittingham said.

Clark Phillips III focusing on outside CB

Four-star freshman Clark Phillips III at one point projected as the opening-day starter at nickel back, but that appears to be changing.

Phillips has been working at both the nickel and outside cornerback during camp, but Whittingham is now focusing him at outside corner, which was not the case earlier in camp.

That’s not to say Phillips cannot play nickel, but that position, as Whittingham has said numerous times this month, is more demanding and more difficult, both physically and mentally, in Utah’s defensive scheme. Getting Phillips ready to play outside corner immediately may be an easier endeavor, but Whittingham is still leaving the decision up to debate for now.

“We gave him a good dose of nickel earlier in camp, and then we shifted gears and have given him more opportunity to play outside because we want our best three out there and he is one of the best three,” Whittingham said. “The transition period going outside is much easier than going outside to inside.”