August Miller, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Camp is complete for the Utah Utes. They wrapped things up with a situational scrimmage Saturday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"I think it was a good workday," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "We had a lot of improvement from scrimmage two (on Tuesday)."
The Utes, however, are far from satisfied as the Sept. 2 season-opener against Pittsburgh draws near.
"I think we're still a work in progress. Everybody's still got work to do," said co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. "We held out some good players today so we didn't look game ready. But at the same time, it's no excuse. The guys have got to step up and make the plays."
The gap between the ones and the twos, he explained, is too big. In fact, he'd prefer that there be no dropoff at all.
Roderick was also displeased about a number of dropped balls and turnovers in the red zone.
Quarterback Jordan Wynn was intercepted twice and completed just 9 of 20 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown.
"We have to execute some things a little bit better," Wynn said. "I've got to play a little bit better."
On the positive side, Wynn noted that the offense cut down on penalties — something, he continued, that they've got to keep cleaning up.
As a whole, Wynn said the offense made progress throughout camp.
"I think we started coming together, started getting a little more consistent," he explained. "We've just got to keep continuing on that path."
Backup quarterback Terrance Cain had a solid outing. The senior was 14 of 18 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Tauni Vakapuna led the ground game for the third consecutive scrimmage, netting 27 yards on nine carries. Nine players caught passes. DeVonte Christopher topped the team with four. Dallin Rogers, Brad Clifford and Reggie Dunn scored touchdowns.
On the special teams front, kicker Joe Phillips connected on field-goal attempts of 48, 22 and 43 yards.
Utah's defense also had its stars. Defensive ends Trevor Reilly and Joe Kruger each made two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including one sack apiece.
Neli A'asa and Chad Manis had interceptions, while Wykie Freeman was credited with a pass breakup. Other contributions included a sack by Boo Andersen and additional tackles-for-loss by Chris Washington, Brandon Burton and Chaz Walker.
"We still have some work to do. We've got 10 more practices and we've got to polish some things up," said defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake. "I think we've come a long way in the last two weeks, from the first scrimmage even to now. We're competitive. I like the passion of the guys."
Many of the players, though, are ready for a rest after completing camp. Wynn's immediate plans included a nap.
"Everyone is pretty exhausted," he said. "I'm just going to go home and go to sleep, probably."
Whittingham noted that the coaching staff had no such plans.
"We're back to work this afternoon," he said. "There is no end for coaches. It's just one continual grind."
On Monday, though, Utah's focus shifts to Pittsburgh. During a staff meeting Friday, the coaching staff opted not to add anything involving the Panthers to the scrimmage — deciding, instead, to work on things they needed to clean up of their own.
The coaches also opted not to give the ones any live work because too many of the players are banged up. Whittingham said the Utes can't afford to lose any more players to injury this close to the opener.
Live reps then went to the twos, and Whittingham noted that players like Vakapuna, Christopher, Cain, Griff McNabb, as well as the defensive line and linebacker corps benefitted.
BIG STAR: Snow College transfer Star Lotulelei, a part of Utah's 2010 signing class, was on the sidelines Saturday. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive lineman has yet to be cleared for practice. Whittingham said there are still compliance issues and eligibility finalization that has to take place.
"It's never a done deal until it's a done deal," he said. "We're still hoping that it's all going to work out."
Ute Camp Report
Day 15: The Utes completed camp Saturday morning with a 70-play situational scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Standouts: Backup quarterback Terrance Cain completed 14-of-18 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive ends Trevor Reilly and Joe Kruger each made two tackles-for-loss. Defensive tackle Neli A'asa and linebacker Chad Manis intercepted passes. Kicker Joe Phillips made three field goals.
Injuries: Several projected starters did not participate or saw limited action for precautionary reasons, allowing the twos to get more reps.
Next up: The Utes resume practice Monday afternoon as preparations continue for the Sept. 2 season opener against Pittsburgh.
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