Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
RSALT LAKE CITY — Saturday's scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium carried a little extra weight for the Utah Utes.
With spring ball entering its final week, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham described it as the "last extensive live work where you have both sides of the ball implementing all of their schemes."
And so went the 80-play gathering.
Quarterback Jordan Wynn headlined the offense. He completed 7-of-12 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Along the way he completed lengthy throws to Reggie Dunn (43 yards) and DeVonte Christopher (42 yards).
"I thought we took another step forward," Wynn said. "We started off a little bit slow on the first series, but I think we're beginning to master the situations that come in a game. We did some good stuff today."
Scoring plays included six touchdowns and a pair of field goals.
Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson ran for two scores on short runs, while Lucky Radley and Kelvin York each did so once. The other TDs came via the air — on a 14-yard throw from Wynn to Luke Matthews and on a 7-yard connection from Adam Schulz to Kenneth Scott. Coleman Petersen and Nick Marsh added kicks from 32- and 29-yards, respectively.
The defense also had some bright spots.
Terrell Reese had a 43-yard interception return. The sophomore defensive back also had two tackles-for-loss. Jason Whittingham and Thretton Palamo also made a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Nate Fakahafua and Tevita Malafu recovered fumbles, while Dave Kruger, Trevor Reilly and LT Filiaga registered sacks.
"I think it was give-and-take which is what you want to see in a scrimmage," Whittingham said. "You want to see both sides having success."
Even so, the coaches acknowledge there's still work to be done.
"I think we've had 12 good practices," Whittingham noted. "We've got 80 percent of the spring under our belt and we've got to finish this the same way we've been operating throughout the first four weeks."
Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson credited the defense for stepping up and making some plays in the scrimmage.
"We've got to answer the challenge," he said while noting that the offense has to continue cleaning things up.
Johnson did, however, like what the offense did in some red-zone situations.
Utah's success throwing deep was also a positive.
"Brian wants to take more shots than we have in the past," Whittingham said.
Utah's speed at wideout, as well as having guys who are good with their body control and separation, make it possible. And that, Whittingham explained, combines well with the throwing accuracy of the quarterbacks.
Five signal callers completed passes in the scrimmage. Besides Wynn, Wilson was 6-of-8 for 56 yards and Chase Hansen was 2-of-4 for 14. Jon Hays and Schulz each made one connection.
"We've got good competition going on at quarterback," Whittingham said. "Jordan's still our guy. But as with every position, the best guy is going to play. Right now the quarterback situation is as good as it's been for a lot of years."
Competition has also been keen on defense. Eight players made tackles-for-loss in the scrimmage and three had pass breakups.
Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake said his guys have been able to focus on fundamentals and technique now that all the spring installation has been completed.
"I thought it was a good scrimmage and I thought our guys played well today," Sitake continued. "Obviously, there was a lot of mistakes. We gave up some big plays at the end. But that's why we put those corners in that kind of position. They have to come up and make big plays."
It's all part of the learning process in spring ball.
"This defense will only go as far as our corners can cover and as much as our D-line can stop the run up front," Sitake said while noting the defense's strengths this year. "I think we got a lot accomplished. But we still have three more practices to get things even better."
EXTRA POINTS: Utah concludes spring ball with practices Tuesday and Thursday and the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday. … Defensive tackle StarLotulelei, running back Harvey Langi and defensive lineman Niasi Leota missed the scrimmage because of a conflict with a camping class. … Running back John White and cornerback Ryan Lacy did not get any reps for precautionary reasons. Linebacker/defensive end Trevor Reilly saw limited action. … Radley finished with a team-high 77 yards rushing, including a nifty 35-yard outburst. …Westlee Tonga and Dres Anderson joined Dunn, Matthews and Christopher with two receptions. …Jared Norris,Seni Fauonuku and Malafu forced fumbles.
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