Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah opened the final week of preseason camp with a double day and intensifying competitions at several positions — including quarterback, where Jordan Wynn is trying to fend off challenges from Jon Hays and Travis Wilson.
After Monday morning's practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that things were getting interesting.
"Jordan is our guy right now but nobody's job is set in stone and the gap is closing," he said. "Both Jon and Travis have had very good camps and it's a competition."
Productivity and efficiency are sought, Whittingham added, and the quarterback that gives Utah the best chance to win is going to be on the field.
Whittingham acknowledged that Wynn holds the edge with his experience and complete command of the offense.
All three quarterbacks, though, have comparable completion percentages in camp — adding importance to strong showing in scrimmages like the one set for Tuesday morning.
"We have great depth at the position right now, which is nice, it's good to have this many throwers," Wynn said. "I like to be pushed. It's going to make us all better and make me better in the long run. So I'm good with it. I feel good."
Wynn noted that he's having fun again after recovering from the third shoulder surgery of his collegiate career. He's determined to build on the positives of being healthy once again.
"I feel like I'm good now," Wynn said. "I'm throwing the ball well. My release feels good."
ON THE LINE: True freshman Jeremiah Poutasi, a highly touted 6-foot-5, 322-pound offensive lineman from Las Vegas, has moved up to the No. 1 spot at left tackle on this week's depth chart. He's backed by redshirt freshman Kala Friel.
The youth movement doesn't necessarily concern Whittingham, who has repeatedly said he's OK with whoever gives the Utes the best chance to win.
Finding a pair of starting tackles to replace all-conference honorees Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen, who graduated, has been the priority in camp.
Although pleased with his progress on the depth chart, Poutasi knows the competition is far from over.
"It feels good but my coach (Dan Finn) told me nothing's safe, every position is still open," Poutasi said. "We're still in camp and have one more week, we're still competing for starting spots."
Junior Percy Taumoelau and senior Miles Mason are the chart toppers at right tackle.
The battles on the line, Poutasi explained, are very intense and there's a lot of pressure. Whittingham said it's a position of great interest in the two scrimmages this week. The Utes hope to have the two-deep chart formulated by the time school begins next week.
"We have good tackles — second string, third string, it doesn't matter," Poutasi said. "We have good offensive linemen and I think we could go to the Pac-12 championship."
As for his quest for playing time, Poutasi isn't take anything for granted.
"I don't see myself as a starter, I just see myself competing for a spot on the team," he said of his approach to the situation,
Poutasi is confident he can come in and succeed as a true freshman if he keeps working hard and listens to the veterans and coaches.
"I think I can handle it very well," Poutasi said. "It's just the mental stuff I need to get down and everything."
LINEBACKER LOGJAM: While competitions at quarterback and tackles are monitored closely on offense, linebacker is a position to watch on defense. Whittingham said junior Trevor Reilly will start, but the other two starting spots are still up for grabs with six players competing for the positions.
EXTRA POINTS: The Utes will wear black helmets with a red logo for the "Blackout Game" against California on Oct. 27. They'll also sport it periodically throughout the balance of the season. … Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson and safeties coach Morgan Scalley will be in the booth this season during games, along with four graduate assistants. … Sophomore Geoff Norwood and junior Sean Fitzgerald have replaced senior Reggie Dunn and junior Anthony Denham on the depth chart as backups at wide receiver. … Junior college transfer Tenny Palepoi fills the void created by a season-ending injury to Junior Salt as a back-up at defensive tackle.
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