SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Spring Football winds down Saturday with the annual Red and White Spring Game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Spring football serves a great purpose for coaches and players, it's a chance to get on the field for a month and get an idea of where the depth chart stands heading into the summer and fall camp. It serves an even better purpose for fans and media, giving us a chance to talk football outside of football season.
This spring things have been just a little bit different around the Utah football program. Spring football this year has been more than just putting the players through the paces. It's been an acclamation process for new staff members and existing staff in new positions. I would argue that spring football this year at the University of Utah has been as or more important to the coaching staff as it has been for the players. Kyle Whittingham has a new offensive line coach: Dan Finn, a new defensive backs coach: Sharrieff Shah, a new tight ends/fullbacks coach: Ilaisa Tuiaki, and a first time offensive coordinator: Brian Johnson. As much as we make football about the players getting comfortable with each other, this spring the coaches need to get comfortable with the players and their new responsibilities too.
The storylines this spring have been mostly obvious: How does Jordan Wynn look and who will be his backup? What will Brian Johnson's offense look like? Who will be the No. 2 running back behind John White, Harvey Langi or Kelvin York? These are all logical and good questions but the simple answers to any of these are that we just won't know until sometime in August.
Spring football is excellent for a lot of things, but generally not so much for answering any key questions that coaches and fans might have. Whittingham and his staff will likely come out of this spring with a slightly clearer picture of what the team will look like this fall, but it's not likely that they will have any real definitive answers until sometime during fall camp. You've got to remember there are still a number of players expected to play key roles this fall that won't arrive until sometime in June or July, namely offensive linemen tasked to protect Wynn.
So Utes fans go out to Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday and enjoy the Red and White Game for exactly what it is: A glorified scrimmage or practice — nothing more and nothing less. Enjoy being in the stadium, and think of how nice it will be the next time you are there on Thursday, Aug. 30 for the season opener against Northern Colorado, or that prime-time affair against the Men of Troy from USC on Thursday, Oct. 4. Enjoy getting your first look at Johnson's offense or the freshmen QBs Travis Wilson and Chase Hansen. Soak up the sun and wear your red! At the end of the day, just remember it is spring football; August is when it really matters.
Bill Riley can be heard as the voice of the University of Utah on gamedays and also on weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on the "Bill Riley Show" on ESPN Radio 700 AM.
Saturday April 21st, Rice-Eccles Stadium
6 a.m.-1 p.m.: Ultimate Tailgate
11 a.m.: MUSS Flag Football
Noon: Alumni Football Game
1 p.m.: Red-White Spring Game
Post-game Autographs: East concourse