Laura Seitz, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah concluded preseason camp without any fanfare.
Aside from a modified scrimmage for the younger players, Saturday morning's finale at Rice-Eccles Stadium was pretty much a routine practice for the Utes — except that it lacked full participation by starting quarterback Jordan Wynn (arm soreness) and several other projected contributors battling minor injuries.
Wynn and company are expected to be back on the field Monday, however, when classes begin and preparations for the Aug. 30 game against Northern Colorado intensify.
"Now we've got to start to polish our game and get all these guys that have been nicked up healthy and go into the opener at full strength," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted that camp was positive for the most part and that guys worked hard.
"We had a couple of practices that weren't as sharp as others but we did not have a bad practice where it was just a disappointment. We did not have one of those," he said while addressing a variety of topics with reporters.
Whittingham said areas of concern going into camp are getting resolved and are works in progress. A new two-deep depth chart is expected to be in place Monday, he added, and preparations will move forward from there.
The Utes are scheduled to practice on their new outdoor field adjacent to the football facility next week. They'll do so with several roster situations materializing.
At quarterback, Wynn is entrenched as the starter despite not throwing the ball since Wednesday for precautionary reasons because of arm soreness. Whittingham said Wynn, who is healthy after shoulder surgery last fall, has been throwing fast balls throughout camp to get more zip on the ball and just needs to give his arm a little rest.
"I want to be out there on the field," Wynn said while reiterating there is no structural damage, just a little fatigue with his throwing shoulder. "But at the same time, I'd rather be out there against Northern Colorado."
Wynn expects to resume throwing again on Monday. Senior Jon Hays and freshman Travis Wilson are still competing for the backup job. Whittingham, though, said Hays is "more or less" holding an edge now after what he called one of the poorer days of camp by the quarterbacks who weren't very sharp with Wynn on the sidelines.
Wynn said it's no secret that the offense has to get better in two-minute situations. It'll be a primary area of emphasis in practice this week, as will general improvement in overall execution.
"This offense isn't just complacent with being good," Wynn said. "We want to be great and explosive and put up points."
Senior receiver Luke Matthews added that camp went well overall under new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson.
"At the end of the day, I feel like we got a lot put in," Matthews said. "Now we've just to sharpen up the little things, make sure we get all the little things correct and we'll be ready to go."
Finding new starting tackles to replace departed all-conference offensive linemen Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen was a priority going into the camp. Although it's taken time, Whittingham said the Utes are closing in on a solution.
If Miles Mason returns to practice Monday after missing significant time with a high ankle sprain, the senior will top the depth chart at left tackle. Junior Percy Taumoelau is the projected starter at right tackle. Freshman Jeremiah Poutasi will be Mason's primary backup, while Whittingham said 2-3 players are still competing for reserve duty behind Taumoelau.
A tight battle is brewing for the No. 2 running back spot behind starter John White. Junior college transfer Kelvin York is trying to fend off a serious challenge from redshirt freshman Jarrell Oliver.
Fortunately for the Utes, there's still time to settle the unresolved issues — and not just personnel matters.
"We're not quite ready yet. We need to still get the mental errors away. That's the main thing," White said while also mentioning penalties and guys just not getting it done in practice. "We need to just get better and get better every day. Our offense is explosive and we're very good, but we need to just work on the smaller things, the smaller details and that's it."
On defense, Whittingham said the staff has a pretty good idea how to settle a talent logjam at linebacker. Details on who will likely join junior Trevor Reilly, though, won't be revealed until the new depth chart is released.
Besides still needing to clean up a few things, senior tackle Star Lotulelei said the defense made significant progress.
"We've come a long way from the first day of camp to today," he said.
Fellow team captain and starting tackle Dave Kruger agrees.
"Camp's over. We accomplished pretty much everything we wanted to," he said. "Coach Whitt does a good job in preparing us and I think it was a solid camp overall."
Now comes the fun stuff.
"We're definitely itching to get the games going," Kruger said. "It gets a little old going against your own teammates after a while. So we're ready to go, man, we're ready."
EXTRA POINTS:Whittingham's longtime friend and former BYU teammate, Vai Sikahema, spoke to the team at the conclusion of practice. "He's a big-time Ute supporter," Whittingham said while noting that Sikahema has several ties to the program. … Whittingham noted that Wynn and players with minor injuries such as safety Quade Chappuis, right guard Sam Brenner, backup center Vyncent Jones and cornerback Ryan Lacy are ready to go, but decided it made sense to give them extra time to recover over the weekend. … Whittingham said senior Coleman Petersen will clearly be Utah's primary placekicker to open the season "unless he has a meltdown" over the next two weeks.
UTAH CAMP REPORT
Day 15: The Utes concluded camp with a practice Saturday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium. A modified scrimmage for the younger players capped things off.
Standouts: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said that sophomore safety Terrell Reese, redshirt freshman running back Jarrell Oliver, junior defensive back Lewis Walker and sophomore defensive back Joseph Smith were among the most improved players in camp.
Injuries: Sophomore receiver Kenneth Scott suffered a bruised shin.
Overheard: "I thought we got a lot accomplished this camp." — Whittingham
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