Utah Utes football: Kyle Whittingham looking for sharp offensive execution
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's spring practices have hit the midway point. Friday's scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium counts as the eighth of 15 sessions.
It'll also mark the first "completely live" action for the Utes this spring.
As such, coach Kyle Whittingham has some expectations — particularly on offense. He wants to see some clean execution.
Specifically speaking, Whittingham is looking for proper blocking for the run game and good protection for the passing scheme. A high completion percentage is also on the list in his desire for basics and fundamentals to show up.
A lack of experience, though, complicates matters.
With projected starter Jordan Wynn unable to throw because of shoulder surgery, sophomore Griff Robles and freshman Tyler Shreve are quarterbacking the offense this spring.
Whittingham said both will see action with the first unit in the 80-play situational scrimmage.
"We'll split it up as evenly as we can," he said.
The quarterbacks, who have been busy digesting the wrinkles that new offensive coordinator Norm Chow is installing, are currently sharing the top spot on the depth chart.
"Tyler and Griff are neck-and-neck," Whittingham said. "It's kind of like the running back position. There's not a lot of separation."
Both quarterbacks are taking baby steps, he added, and each is making a lot of mistakes.
That, however, is somewhat expected. A lot of the offense was put in over the first seven practices this spring. The plan is to expose them to a lot early and then fine-tune things over the second half of camp.
Inexperience is also an issue at running back, where freshman Harvey Langi, junior college transfer John White and rugby standout Thretton Palamo are competing for the starting job.
Running backs coach Dave Schramm noted there's nothing they can really do about the fact that none of them have yet to carry the ball in a major college game.
"The only thing we can do and we will do is put them in as many situations, game-like situations, as we can until the first game," Schramm said. "We've got to get them playing 11-man football, seeing things fast and all that stuff."
The first extensive opportunity to do so will come in the scrimmage, which is open to the public.
Fans in attendance will also get a good look at an establishing group on defense. Whittingham noted that junior Ryan Lacy and senior Conroy Black have stepped into the top spots. Junior Reggie Topps, the leader at nickel, and Wykie Freeman are also in the mix.
EXTRA POINTS: Utah closes out spring ball with the Red-White Game on Saturday, April 16. Before then, the Utes are scheduled to practice next Tuesday and Thursday, as well as April 12, 14 and 15. ... A scrimmage is scheduled for April 9 at 10 a.m. ... Walk-on fullback Max Moala had wrist surgery and will be sidelined for the remainder of spring camp.
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