Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s offense picked up the pace in last week’s season-opening win over Utah State. The Utes officially ran 72 plays in their 30-26 victory over the Aggies.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the number was about right.
“I think tempo is overrated. I hear so much about tempo it’s starting to be a little irritating. If my information is correct, there was 10 teams in Division I football that snapped it 88 times or more this past weekend and seven of those teams lost,” he said. “So there’s a point of diminishing returns for tempo. It’s not about tempo. It’s about execution and the players that are playing for you. So tempo is all fine and dandy, but like I’ve said, there’s a point where if you start to go too fast I think it has a negative effect.”
WORKED OUT WELL: Whittingham and quarterback Travis Wilson agreed that Utah’s first game with co-offensive coordinators Dennis Erickson and Brian Johnson went well.
“I think we’re very satisfied with the channels of communication and the lines of communication,” said Whittingham, who noted that the offense was never disoriented or had any personnel issues that required the Utes to burn any timeouts — a typical issue in first games of the season.
“I think it worked out perfectly. We had Erickson up in the booth and we had BJ down on the field,” Wilson said. “I felt like they were both really trying to communicate with each other and just trying to get the right play. I really liked the play-calling and I thought it went real smoothly.”
FILLING THE VOID: The season-ending injury to wide receiver Kenneth Scott created more opportunities for seniors Anthony Denham and Sean Fitzgerald against Utah State. Denham responded with a career-high six catches for 113 yards, while Fitzgerald hauled in five receptions — one more than his previous career total.
“I definitely feel like they can step in and fill K-Scott’s shoes,” Wilson said of the duo. “I know they’ll keep on doing what they have been doing and I know they’ll progressively get better, too.”
Denham and Fitzgerald are listed as starters on this week’s depth chart, along with Dres Anderson, who caught Utah’s first touchdown pass of the season.
Fitzgerald expressed sorrow for Scott’s injury, but noted that the junior (who is expected to be granted a medical hardship year by the NCAA) has been supportive.
“I’m really sad for K-Scott. I’ve been talking to him a lot. He seems to be doing well. But he’s excited for me,” Fitzgerald said. “I know he’s excited for this opportunity I have. Unfortunately (his injury is) part of the game and you’ve got to be ready for this, for situations like this.”
EXTRA POINTS: Bleacher seats and standing-room-only tickets remain for Saturday’s game. ... Former Utah star Jamal Anderson will make his Pac-12 Networks debut as an analyst for the broadcast. ... The Utes had 10 players make their first career starts last week — Denham, offensive lineman Siaosi Aiono, defensive end Hunter Dimick, snapper Chase Dominiguez, linebacker Jared Norris, defensive back Davion Orphey, kicker Andy Phillips, offensive lineman Junior Salt, defensive tackle LT Tuipolutu and running back Kelvin York.
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