Utah football notes: Quarterbacks continue to be evaluated
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been quite a fall camp for Utah quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick and the offensive staff. They’ve sorted out the deck of six scholarship quarterbacks eligible to play this season.
The battle between junior Travis Wilson and Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson headlined things, but there was also a keen competition featuring redshirt freshmen Brandon Cox and Conner Manning. Junior Adam Schulz and true freshman Donovan Isom were also in the pool of candidates.
“It was hard in camp because we gave a majority of the reps to two guys and so we had four good players that really were getting very limited opportunities,” Roderick said. “It’s been a close call all the way down. I mean if you had a perfect world and you could give every single guy equal opportunity, who knows how it would have shaken out.”
Wilson, the most experienced quarterback in the group with 16 collegiate starts, edged out Thompson for the top job. Cox outperformed Manning for No. 3 on the depth chart.
“We made the best call we could. We put every bit of study and concentration on trying to make the best decision we can and we’ll continue to evaluate. This is an ongoing process,” Roderick said. “It’s not like you just name your pecking order and then it’s just stuck like that forever. Now it’s based on performance. It’s an every day thing.”
FRIDAY’S PRACTICE: Whittingham said things went well Friday morning on the practice field as the finishing touches are put on the game plan, something that will continue over the next three days. The Utes will practice again Saturday morning and take Sunday off before resuming practices on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is scheduled to be a “very light” session.
“So we’ve really got three work days to go,” Whittingham said as Thursday’s opener approaches. “We’re excited for the season, sick of lining up against each other and it’s time to line up against somebody else.”
CAPTAINS TO BE ELECTED: The Utes planned to meet Friday night and choose team captains and the team leadership council for the 2014 season.
“It’s huge. I’ve never been involved with a great team that didn’t have great leadership,” said Whittingham, who noted that with all the new faces in the program the decision was made to wait until the end of camp after everybody got to know each other to elect captains because it’s a big decision.
Whittingham said the team will have five captains this season — two on offense, two on defense and one from special teams. The leadership council will consist of 12 players.
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said that senior defensive end Nate Orchard, who has been noticeably absent during the media observation period the past couple of days, is fine. Whittingham explained that Orchard has a “little thing going on” and he should be back out on the practice field Monday. The former Highland High star has never missed a game in his Utah career, playing in all 37 contests over the past three years. Freshman running back Tavaris Williams was moved to cornerback for a period of time, Whittingham explained, to get a look at him on defense. The football team will participate in Saturday’s Fan Fest at Rice-Eccles Stadium from 6-9 p.m.
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