Five Takeaways From Utah's Second Scrimmage Of Fall Camp

In what was the final scrimmage of fall camp, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said the team is really beginning to see some separation at key position battles — but is still mum on the quarterback situation
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Whenever the head coach is pleased it means that the team is on the right path.

Well, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was very pleased following Saturday's 100-plus live plays during the final scrimmage of fall camp — noting that the amount of progress the Utes made in one week from scrimmage to scrimmage was very encouraging.

“That’s the last extensive live work before we line up and play two weeks from today. We’ll have a few live sessions here and there next week and then that will definitely be it,” Whittingham said. “The next week, obviously, will be game week prepping, and away we go. So I feel good about where we are.”

But despite the good mojo from Saturday, it doesn't mean that Whittingham believes his team his ready for its Nov. 7 opener against Arizona. He still believes that the Utes must clean up a lot of little things in both sides of the ball over the ensuing two weeks before he feels good.

Here are FIVE takeaways from Saturday's scrimmage — as well as an update on the ever-curious quarterback battle.

1.) Quarterback Battle Nearly Settled

Utah quarterbacks Jake Bentley, left, and Cameron Rising, right, battle it out in practice for the starting quarterback job.

Utah quarterbacks Jake Bentley, left, and Cameron Rising, right, battle it out in practice for the starting quarterback job.

This is one battle that Whittingham and his staff have been very mum about, keeping the lid on tight as to who's leading the battle to replace departed started Tyler Huntley. 

The three-person race between seniors Drew Lisk and Jake Bentley and sophomore Cameron Rising was narrowed down to two this past week for the week of practice and scrimmage — but we have no idea which two.

Now Whittingham believes the team is ready to name a starter as of today, but will take a few more days if needed to make sure they got it right. However, the media will not find until the middle of game week, as Whittingham doesn't see an advantage of publicly naming his starting quarterback.

“At first blush, we’re gonna obviously dissect the film, but we had good play from the quarterbacks, very good play, bordering on outstanding,” Whittingham said following the scrimmage on Saturday. “We’ll take a good hard look at this tape and hopefully have a decision on Monday. If we need a few more days, we have that luxury. But as I said, a couple days ago, Wednesday or Thursday would be absolutely the time that we have to come to a conclusion. If we get it done on Monday, then that’s great. We’ll see what happens.”

2.) Pass-Catchers Are As Talented As They Appear

Devaughn Vele, Utah wide receiver

Devaughn Vele, Utah wide receiver

The one massive positive that's been coming out fall camp and the past two scrimmages has been the emergence of Utah's pass-catchers. Combining their size, skill and athleticism, there's a high likelihood that the Utes will transition from a run-first offense to one that slings it around the field.

"We're committed to doing whatever it takes to win," offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said. "So if the strength of the offense is on the perimeter, and the quarterbacks are up to the task, then things will open up, and I really feel like last year we played to the strengths of who we were and stayed true to who we were through the course of the season."

The wide receiver position is pretty much set with Britain Covey, Bryan Thompson and Solomon Enis emerging as the starters, and Money Parks, Sampson Nacua and Devaughn Vele the primary backups.

“Not as deep as we were coming into the season,” Whittingham said. “Tyrone Smith being out, and it’s a significant injury, he’ll be out until June, I believe it’s going to be a while and then of course, Jaylen Dixon decided to to go elsewhere, which leaves us with six guys that really are going to get the vast majority of the reps, maybe all the reps, and that is Solomon Enis, Bryan Thompson, Britain Covey, (Devaughn) Vele is also in the mix. They’re doing a great job. Samson (Nacua) is a guy that just keeps making play after play after play and then Money Parks, freshman wide receiver that we just got this year… But those first six are really the guys that are the primary targets.”

The tight ends are set with Brant Kuithe and Cole Fotheringham entrenched as the primary playmakers, with Kuithe possessing All-American talent as the top tight end in the Pac-12.

Although, watch out for San Diego transfer Dalton Kincaid. While still awaiting the ruling on his eligibility, Whittingham says that if eligible, Kincaid will play a big role this season.

3.) Secondary Still A Work In Progress

Clark Phillips III, Utah cornerback

Clark Phillips III, Utah cornerback

By far the position group that has Whittingham and his staff most concerned is the secondary, where as many as 10 players are still in the running to see who emerges as a starter.

Youth and inexperience is to be expected for the Utes, especially after replacing all four starters from last season's team. There will be growing pains, but more than anything Whittingham and his staff are just looking for consistency. Those who are most consistent will emerge as starters, regardless of classification.

4.) Could There Be A Clog At Running Back?

Devin Brumfield, Utah running back

Devin Brumfield, Utah running back

Replacing Zack Moss was never going to be easy — let alone possible.

But rather go with a running back by committee approach, Whittingham and Ludwig prefer to have one lead back and then 1-2 others who can spell him for rest throughout the game.

It was originally going to be a two-person battle between Devin Brumfield and Jordan Wilmore, but freshman Ty Jordan has had something to say about that. While complimenting the entire group, Whittingham has consistently singled out Jordan as a special talent.

“There’s four guys that are doing a great job. Same for guys I listed last week (Jordan) Wilmore, (Devin) Brumfield, (Micah) Bernard and our freshman, Ty Jordan who did some really good things today. He’s a very dynamic, explosive player,” Whittingham said.

5.) True Freshmen Will Play A Massive Role This Season

Xavier Carlton (44), Utah defensive end

Xavier Carlton (44), Utah defensive end

After signing the best recruiting class in program history, it comes as no surprise that multiple true freshman will be making the two-deep depth chart and see action this year.

Whittingham has continuously pointed out multiple freshmen as players ready to have a big season. From Jordan to Phillips and Nate Ritchie, multiple freshmen will compete and start for the Utes

Two names that haven't been said very much are Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton, two four-star defensive ends. According to sources though, both of these players are extremely talented and have been shining in camp — with some even calling Carlton "a dude."

“Start with Ty Jordan. He’s an explosive player, he’s built, not very tall. He’s 5’8, 5’9 but he’s 200 pounds or just a hair under. 10×500 meter guy in high school,” Whittingham said. “So he’s got blazing speed, and he’s got a great feel for angles and instinctiveness when he runs the football, when to cut, when to try to outrun somebody. And he’s got great vision, can see holes and also very good out of the backfield catching the football. I don’t want to say that he’s going to be the lead back but he’s got a bright future and there’s no doubt about that. Jaren Kump, he’s doing a phenomenal job. You will see a lot of him. Nate Ritchie, Tennessee Pututau, Tanoa Togiai, Van Fillinger, Xavier Carlton. I am filling your ex Carlton. Clark Phillips was obvious from day one that he was going to be a factor. So there’s going to be a bunch of freshmen that get a lot of playing time.”

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