Spring practice at the University of Utah hit the three-quarter mark on Saturday afternoon, the Utes conducting a situational-heavy scrimmage of approximately 120 plays.
One hundred and twenty plays afforded the Utes a lot of time to get a lot of things done. Two-minute offense, four-minute offense, special teams, red zone work, short-yardage stuff, etc.
As Whittingham’s opening comments on the day began to unfold on Zoom, he took a positive tone about what had gone on. It didn’t take long for those positivities to reach the quarterback position, which, for what it’s worth, has been a point of praise from Whittingham all spring.
“Charlie Brewer did a nice job putting the ball where it needed to be, and we saw some progress out of the other four quarterbacks as well,” Whittingham said. “Everyone’s taking a step forward collectively as a team, and that has to happen.”
Whether pleased or displeased, Whittingham generally gives off a very even-keeled demeanor, but when discussing Brewer this spring, Whittingham, based on that general even-keel, has been quite effusive with his praise of the Baylor graduate transfer quarterback.
With three more spring practices to go, including the April 17 Red-White Game at Rice-Eccles Stadium (Noon, Pac-12 Networks), the No. 1 takeaway from spring ball is already written in cement.
Whittingham believes that Brewer has been everything he and his coaching staff thought they were getting, if not more.
“All of those reps he had in the Big 12 were prepping him for when he got here,” Whittingham said. “He’s a guy that’s played so much football at this level. As far as being able to digest the offense, he’s done an outstanding job of studying on his own time, which is something all great quarterbacks do.
“There isn’t a quarterback worth his salt that doesn’t spend a ton of time outside of the structured meeting times on his own, getting schooled up, watching film on his own and all that type of stuff.”
Utah’s quarterback competition has not started yet, not really anyway. Whittingham has already made clear that Cameron Rising will get his shot during fall camp, when his surgically repaired right shoulder should allow him to compete at full strength.
Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson, a dual-threat freshman with a huge high school pedigree, but zero collegiate reps, may figure into the early days of that late-summer competition, but listening to Whittingham speak during spring practice, it seems clear that he believes it will ultimately boil down to Brewer and Rising.
Assuming that is the case, here is something to ponder as the Utes embark on one more week of spring practice.
As Brewer seemingly continues to impress behind closed doors with no media access this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as Whittingham continues to sound like he has found something at the most-important position on the field, can Rising legitimately still win the job he won out of fall camp last season before getting hurt in the opener?
We’re not going to find that out until August, but in March and April, Brewer has clearly shown something after 9,700 passing yards, almost 11,000 yards of total offense, and 87 touchdowns in four seasons in the Big 12.
“He does all the little things that make the difference between being just average and being really good,” Whittingham said. “He’s paid that price and it didn’t start during spring ball. It started from the day he stepped on campus. He’s been in that playbook, and in the film room, and what we see out on the field is the product of all that hard work.”