Utah football's first "Pac-12 spring" went well.
"It was a very positive experience overall," Whittingham said after the Utes wrapped up their 15 spring practices last month. "We got a lot accomplished."
Above everything else, however, Whittingham is most pleased about something they didn't do — lose any players to serious injury.
"We stayed healthy," he said. "We didn't have any injuries that are going to impact us in the fall and that was very fortunate."
There was other good news as well.
"We were able to install just about the entire offense, which was one of our priorities," Whittingham said of the scheme new offensive coordinator Norm Chow has introduced.
The Utes did so with starting quarterback Jordan Wynn unable to throw passes while recovering from shoulder surgery. Sophomore Griff Robles and freshman Tyler Shreve wound up getting the reps.
"Both of those guys made tremendous strides," Whittingham said. "They've got all summer to continue to work on their game and then we've got 29 practices before we play our opener against Montana State."
Wynn has since been cleared to start throwing the ball and is expected to be completely healthy when fall camp opens in August.
Utah's stable of quarterbacks, though, could grow to four by then. Whittingham acknowledged that's the number of signal callers on scholarship the Utes would prefer to have on the roster at all times.
"We've always got our eyes out for good players, obviously, and right now we're short that one scholarship at quarterback," Whittingham said. "And so if we come across a guy that we think can help us, we'll look hard at bringing him on board."
If not, he continued, they'll be just fine — noting one spring that Brian Johnson was the only quarterback in camp.
"We're not in dire straits," Whittingham said. "But if we can help ourselves out by adding another quarterback to our program, then we'll do it."
Inexperience also permeated the ground game in spring ball. True freshman Harvey Langi, junior college transfer John White and rugby star Thretton Palamo were charged with filling the void left by the graduation of Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide, as well as the health-related retirement of Sausan Shakerin.
The results were positive. All three newcomers showed promise and will continue competing for the starting job this fall.
"The running back position looks like it's going to be productive for us," Whittingham said. "That was another concern, particularly in recruiting when we lost all those backs."
Getting that position back up to speed, as well as the play of cornerbacks Ryan Lacy and Conroy Black, were among the bright spots identified by Whittingham as Utah prepares to make the jump from the MWC to the Pac-12.
"I feel good about our progress. We've got a long ways to go. This summer is going to be critical for our development," he said. "We can't be there as coaches, but our progress has got to continue through the summer if we're going to have a chance to be a good football team."
Award type: Head count
NCAA scholarship max limit: 85
Utah actual award, 2010-11: 79.5
Pac-12 football programs: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State.
Note: The University of Utah offers the NCAA maximum for all sports, should the coach want to use them. Numbers reflect not only people who have quit, are cut or withdrawn, but also cases where a coach held back scholarships (or parts of scholarships in the case of the equivalency sports) in one year so that they would have more to use in another.
Utes at a glance
Advantage: The Utes have put together eight consecutive winning seasons and have an established program in place. Rice-Eccles-Stadium is a tough venue for visiting teams and could be a factor in keeping Utah competitive.
Challenge: Depth. The Utes simply lack the depth that most BCS teams enjoy. It remains to be seen if it'll be an immediate factor. Fact is, it'll likely take a couple of recruiting classes to bring Utah up to speed in that regard.
7-3: Utah's record against Pac-12 teams under Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham.
Norm Chow says: "We're as good as anybody (in the Pac-12). But everybody is as good as we are. So we've just got to execute and work hard."
Leaders of the Pac: Preseason favorites Oregon and Stanford are the only teams in the league Utah isn't scheduled to play this season.
Bottom line: Even without the Ducks and Cardinal, Utah's schedule is challenging and vastly different than life in the Mountain West Conference. A winning season and a bowl bid, however, are likely.
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