Utah Utes football: First scrimmage a mixed bag for Utes
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Simply put, Utah's first scrimmage of preseason camp had a little of this and a little of that. What it lacked, however, was complete satisfaction for the Utes.
"It was about what you would expect," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after Thursday morning's practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "We did some good things. We had some sloppy moments as well."
Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 8-of-16 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns, connecting on scoring strikes to Luke Matthews (20 yards) and DeVonte Christopher (13 yards) in red zone work. A 1-yard touchdown run by Lucky Radley and a 40-yard field goal by Coleman Petersen rounded out the other scores in those situations.
In two-minute drills, Wynn and Matthews teamed up for a 60-yard scoring strike. Jarrell Oliver's 8-yard TD run and a 27-yard field goal by Nick Marsh capped the point production.
It wasn't enough, however, to overshadow three turnovers in the scrimmage. Two of the miscues were unforced.
"The bottom line for us as an offense is we've got to take care of the football," said offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. "Fortunately, we've got three weeks to make the necessary adjustments and corrections."
While acknowledging that's what camp is all about, Wynn expected a better showing in the scrimmage.
"It wasn't good enough on offense. We turned it over too many times. We had too many penalties," he said. "We've just got to clean it up. There were a lot of positives but we've got to get rid of those negatives."
Although Whittingham noted that putting the ball on the ground twice and throwing an interception in the red zone were the biggest negatives in the scrimmage, not all was bad.
Whittingham called it a "double-edged sword." The defense drew praise for the takeaways. Defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi recovered both fumbles, while cornerback Mo Lee had the interception.
The defense combined to make 13 tackles-for-loss, eight pass breakups and seven sacks. Even so, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake wasn't completely satisfied. He noted that a lot of mistakes were made. However, he was pleased with the effort.
In summing up the scrimmage, Sitake said there was "some good, some bad."
On the positive side, the Utes avoided serious injury.
"I thought overall it was a good day. We stayed healthy, which is probably the most important thing in the whole practice," Whittingham said. "Nobody came out with anything more than a few bumps and bruises, so it was a good first scrimmage."
EXTRA POINTS: Running back John White and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei were held out of the scrimmage for precautionary reasons. … Running back James Poole led all rushers with 65 yards on 10 carries. … Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson completed 6-of-7 passes for 65 yards. … Matthews topped the receivers with four catches. Christopher, Sean Fitzgerald and Kenneth Scott each had two. … A day after being named the front-runner at placekicker, Marsh missed four of his six field goal attempts. Petersen was 6-of-8 with one of the miscues attributed to a bad snap. … Defensive back Justin Thomas had two pass breakups.
UTAH CAMP REPORT
Day 7: The Utes scrimmaged at Rice-Eccles Stadium Thursday morning. They'll have a double day on Friday.
Standouts: Junior defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi had two fumble recoveries. Sophomore defensive end Nate Fakahafua had 1.5 tackles-for-loss and senior cornerback Mo Lee had an interception. Senior receiver Luke Matthews scored two touchdowns to highlight the offense.
Injuries: The Utes came out of their first scrimmage with no new major injuries.
Overheard: "We've got a lot to work on." — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
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