Utah Utes football: Whittingham pleased as Utes enter final 2 weeks of spring ball

Published: Tuesday, April 9 2013 9:25 p.m. MDT

University of Utah tight end Jake Murphy, left, blocks Tevita Malafu during practice in Salt Lake City Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Although Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged that some separation is taking place, it’s still too early to call the position battles that are taking place this spring.

“There’s still a lot of football left,” he said, while noting that the Utes have two major live sessions to go — Saturday’s scrimmage and the annual Red-White Game on April 20.

Whittingham liked a lot of the things he saw in reviewing film of last Friday’s scrimmage.

“It was a good tape,” he said. “Clean with very few penalties, very few mistakes.”

The biggest negative was too many interceptions. Whittingham, however, said that the four picks were a good thing for the defense.

“So the overall feeling after watching that tape was very positive,” he said.

Whittingham added that the scrimmage was a big improvement from the live work of a week earlier. He’s hoping for more of the same this Saturday (10 a.m.-noon) when a less extensive scrimmage will be held.

The Utes are installing some new things this week, and the coaches are eager to put it on tape so they’ll have something to teach about it come fall.

TOUGH CONDITIONS: Utah’s 10th spring session was held at Rice-Eccles Stadium despite the cold, windy weather outside. When asked why practice wasn’t held indoors, Whittingham explained that at some point and time they’ll play a game in every condition.

“So you might as well get used to it,” he said. “It makes sense, doesn’t it?”

LIKING THE LINE: Starting quarterback Travis Wilson had good things to say about the offensive line. The first unit features left tackle Jeremiah Poutasi, left guard Jeremiah Tofaeono, center Vyncent Jones, right guard Junior Salt and right tackle Siaosi Aiono.

“Our o-line is doing great,” Wilson said. “They’re making great blocks, they’re making great holes for the running backs, and they’re keeping me safe.”

LIKING THE LINE, PART 2: The defensive line is also drawing praise this spring, especially the tackles.

Whittingham said they’ve really improved over the 10 spring practices.

Leading the charge is senior Tenny Palepoi. “He’s going to be one of the best defensive tackles in the conference this year,” said Whittingham, who also noted the play of senior LT Tuipulotu, freshman Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (the nephew of former Ute Sione Pouha) and sophomore Seni Fauonuku.

Whittingham added the Utes will be very deep on the defensive line (at tackle and end) when they get all the players from this year’s recruiting class in camp this fall.

EXTRA POINTS: Former Ute Zane Beadles, an all-pro offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, stopped by Tuesday’s practice. … Senior Karl Williams has joined sophomore James Poole and junior Lucky Radley on the depth chart behind starter Kelvin York at running back. … Defensive backs Joseph Bryant, Wykie Freeman and Darchon Taggart are sidelined for the rest of the spring with injuries. Linebacker Reshawn Hooker and defensive ends Nate Orchard, Trevor Reilly and Jason Whittingham are also being kept out of contact drills. … Redshirt freshman Hunter Dimick is getting the No. 1 reps at right defensive end. Sophomore Cameron Taylor is listed as the backup.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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