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Quarterbacks fail to shine in Utah's scrimmage

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 12 2014 6:50 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 13 2014 9:12 a.m. MDT

Travis Wilson is interviewed following a University of Utah football scrimmage in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn’t a good day for Utah’s quarterbacks. They received some pretty blunt criticism after the Utes’ initial camp scrimmage.

“Based on today’s performance, we don’t have a starting quarterback,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Because none of them played well enough to start. So we’ve got to get better.”

All six quarterbacks eligible to play this season — Travis Wilson, Kendal Thompson, Conner Manning, Brandon Cox, Adam Schulz and Donovan Isom — saw action Tuesday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Whittingham didn’t like what he saw, noting that it wasn’t good.

“I wasn’t impressed by any quarterback today. They all played. All six of them got reps. We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s obvious,” he said. “It’s disappointing because they’ve been very sharp up until today. But today, in a game-like situation we didn’t respond, didn’t answer the bell.”

Final statistics, which included only Wilson, Thompson, Manning and Cox, had the quarterbacks teaming to complete 15-of-44 passes for 228 yards.

Whittingham said the quarterbacks didn’t throw the ball nearly efficient enough, not even close. He also emphasized that the offense, as a whole, wasn’t as sharp as it need it to be.

“Not good enough. Not good enough at the quarterback position. Not good enough anywhere,” said Whittingham, who was pleased with the tempo but not the execution.

The Utes put the ball on the ground in what Whittingham called critical situations. Safety Tevin Carter recovered a fumble and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. In a four-minute drill, the offense just needed to possess the ball in order to ice a game. Hunter Dimick, though, foiled such plans by recovering a fumble for the defense.

“(We’ve) got to be masters of situational football,” Whittingham said. “We did not master situational football today by a far stretch.”

Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen acknowledged that they’ve got work to do. From an execution standpoint, he explained, there are “a number of little things.”

Christensen acknowledged it was disappointing that the offense turned the ball over and had three-and-outs in the scrimmage. He thought the tempo wasn’t bad, but wants to see improvement on playing fast from when the ball is snapped until the whistle blows.

“We’ll look at the film and get right back to work this afternoon,” said Christensen, who noted that the Utes have another scrimmage on Saturday.

“We’ve got to straighten some things out offensively,” he said. “We’ve certainly got players that are capable of doing it. So we’ll coach them up and motivate them and get them going and get those things corrected before Saturday.”

Wilson, who was 8-of-21 for 101 yards and two touchdowns, felt the offense didn’t come out with the right mindset and needed to treat the scrimmage with more motivation.

“We really want to showcase what we’ve learned from practice and everything,” Wilson explained. “So we’ve just got to come out and get better, especially during the scrimmages.”

Wilson said the offense definitely started off really slow, playing good in some areas and not well enough in others. The turnovers, he noted, came in exchanges with the running backs.

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