After last season’s version was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Utah football program will welcome back the Red-White Game on Saturday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The spring game will mark the 15th and final spring practice, as attention will next turn to the Sept. 2 regular-season opener vs. FCS national championship contender Weber State back at Rice-Eccles.
Saturday will mark the first time Utah has practiced this spring in front of fans and media alike, so here are few things we’ll be looking for once the Utes take the field.
1. The quarterback situation
Kyle Whittingham has been effusive in his praise this spring of Baylor graduate transfer Charlie Brewer. Whittingham is likely to sit, or at least limit some of his veteran players on Saturday, but if Brewer plays, it will mark his first public reps in a Utah uniform.
Beyond Brewer, there is intrigue as to what Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson and four-star freshman Peter Costelli bring to the table. Whichever quarterbacks play Saturday, do not expect Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to open up the playbook too much.
RED-WHITE SPRING GAME
At Rice-Eccles Stadium
When • Saturday, noon.
TV • Pac-12 Networks
2. The running back situation
Much of the wintertime hype at the position centered around Oklahoma transfer TJ Pledger and LSU transfer Chris Curry, but Whittingham has noted a few times this spring that redshirt freshman Micah Bernard has graded out well in live practice situations and is right in the mix to get significant reps come fall.
How the reps ultimately shake out come fall is still up for discussion, but Whittingham has indicated it could be a running back-by-committee approach.
3. How healthy is R.J. Hubert?
The junior safety played in four of five games last season, but never appeared to be fully healthy after injuring his knee in the 2019 Pac-12 championship game.
Whittingham and defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley have both said Hubert has been going at full speed with no restrictions, which is good because if Hubert is healthy, he can presumably slide into the starting spot left vacant by promising freshman Nate Ritchie, who is taking his LDS mission and is therefore out of the mix until 2023.
4: How thin is the wide receiver group?
Much has been made over the last two months about Utah’s wide receivers after Bryan Thompson and Samson Nacua opted to transfer.
Britain Covey, Solomon Enis and the returning Jaylen Dixon are all locked in as dependable options, but then there are questions. Whittingham has singled out Devaughn Vele as having a productive spring, same with freshman Money Parks.
The name to watch on Saturday at the position is freshman Caine Savage, a converted cornerback, mostly for depth purposes this spring. Whether or not Savage remains on offense into the fall is a question mark, and will likely depend on what kind of wide receiver help Whittingham can pull out of the transfer portal in the coming weeks and months.
5. What does the new south end zone look like?
Nobody has been inside Rice-Eccles Stadium since Dec. 19, so almost four months later, construction in the south end zone has taken better shape and should provide some idea of what the finished product will look like.
Completion on the Ken Garff Performance Zone is expected towards the end of July, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for August.
Capacity will go from 45,807 to 51,444, while The Salt Lake Tribune reported earlier this week that ticket sales for the new seating have been brisk.