Utah Utes football: Coaches gauge depth on opening day of scrimmage
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday's scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium didn't settle any position battles for the Utah Utes.
The film will be evaluated, though, as preseason camp kicks into high gear.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said depth chart decisions will most likely start to be made after the next scrimmage, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
That, he explained, is when the travel squad will begin to shape up at several positions.
Whittingham said the starting offensive tackle spots continue to be a work in progress and a big concern. Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson noted that the candidates were put to the test in the scrimmage, matching up against established defenders like Nate Fakahafua and Trevor Reilly.
On the latest depth chart, junior Percy Taumoelau holds the No. 1 spot at left tackle. Freshmen Kala Friel and Jeremiah Poutasi are listed as the backups. Senior Miles Mason held the lead position at right tackle. Junior college transfer Carlos Lozano and freshman Daniel Nielson topped the reserves. Miles, however, is out with a high ankle sprain — allowing the others to get more reps.
The competition to replace graduated all-conference tackles Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen is expected to intensify as the Aug. 30 season opener against Northern Colorado approaches.
Utah enters a challenging camp stretch featuring a double day Friday and what Whittingham calls a "heavy duty" practice on Saturday.
"This is the part of camp where it starts to get hard and you start to see who is really tough and who is going to find a way to grind it out," Johnson said. "Fortunately for us, we have a really tough group of guys that come out here and compete every day."
The pack, he added, will naturally start to separate itself in the next couple of days.
SOLID SHOWING: Utah defensive end Joe Kruger was pleased with how the Utes performed up front in the scrimmage, even with established starter Star Lotulelei being held out to let others compete for playing time.
"The d-line did pretty solid," Kruger said. "They couldn't do anything on us in the run."
Defensive linemen Tenny Palepoi, Hunter Dimick, Moses Folauhola, Niasi Leota, LT Tuipulotu, Fakahafua and Reilly were credited with tackles-for-loss in the scrimmage.
HERE AND THERE: Quarterbacks Travis Wilson and Chase Hansen, who are both true freshmen, had a couple of different experiences this week.
Wilson was being tackled by defenders in practice and did a full flip after getting hit while attempting to score in the scrimmage.
Hansen, meanwhile, is recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery on Wednesday. Whittingham said the operation went "great."
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