It took three weeks, but it appears head coach Kyle Whittingham has whittled down his final roster.
And now that Utah's fall camp is officially over, all the focus in the upcoming week will be on the season opener against Idaho State Thursday.
Camp recap: The biggest storyline throughout camp this year was definitely the quarterback battle. Travis Wilson is back with a clean bill of health and edged out Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson to remain the starter. However, Whittingham said Thompson will also play at times.
Here were the other big headlines the past three weeks:
— Wide receiver Kenneth Scott and strong safety Brian Blechen are back after injuries last season. However, the Utes lost cornerback Reggie Porter, who was expected to start and possibly break out at cornerback. Wide receiver Raelon Singleton also will miss the season.
— The Utes will rotate Bubba Poole, Devontae Booker and Troy McCormick at running back.
— Dres Anderson, a healthy Scott and Tim Patrick were named starters at receiver, but Whittingham said Dominique Hatfield, Kaelin Clay, Delshawn McClellon and Andre Lewis will all see plenty of playing time. Senior Westlee Tonga will lead the tight ends.
— Injuries at linebacker left the Utes "paper thin" at the position, according to Whittingham. Utah starts the season without starters Gionni Paul and Jacoby Hale. Whittingham said expected starter Uaea Masina went down with an unspecified injury during camp last week, but refused to say how serious the injury was or for how long he'd be out — if at all. Whittingham later said Paul is anticipated to return for the Michigan game on Sept. 20. Hale could be back midway through the season.
— Sophomore J.J. Dielman won the right tackle job, while Sam Tevi switched from the defensive line to offensive line to add depth to the right side of the line. Another youngster, sophomore Isaac Asiata, will start at right guard. Upperclassmen Siaosi Aiono (center), Junior Salt (left guard) and Jeremiah Poutasi (left tackle) give the Utes a little bit more experience on the left side of the line.
— Kicker Andy Phillips was awarded a scholarship.
Three (surprise) stars:
After each hockey game, three stars are given to the top performers for each team. If I were to pick the top three performers of fall camp, I'd end up with a cliche list of the top football players on the team. That would be pointless.
With that in mind, here were three surprising stars that came out of fall camp this year. Each entered camp with perhaps a question mark but left with a standing impression heading into the regular season.
— Tim Patrick, WR
Patrick entered camp as a relative unknown for everyone not on the team. The tall, lanky junior college transfer walk-on, however, made an immediate impact in the practices. By the end of the first week, the entire media gang had to ask about him.
Patrick went from being a walk-on transfer to a starter in just a few weeks. At 6-foot-5, he's got great length and athletic ability. He is essentially a basketball player playing football, and his potential is through the roof. In the two combined scrimmages in camp, Patrick led all receivers with a total of nine catches and 118 yards. That and his consistent ability to run routs and catch the ball got him the starting job and the opportunity at increased playing time. Whittingham said he expects six or seven receivers to see time.
— Troy McCormick, RB
McCormick is the smallest in size of three running backs expected to rotate around this season, but he definitely leaves a large impression when he's got the ball. In the two scrimmages, he racked up 147 total yards of offense on 18 touches — the best of all the offensive players. His 8.2 yards per touch is up there too.
McCormick has also shown throughout camp his "home run" ability, as he has the potential to crack a big run at any moment. He broke out a 59-yard touchdown run in the latter of the two scrimmages. He's broken out a few of those throughout camp as well. He's listed as having a 4.38 40-yard speed in Utah's media guide and has definitely shown that's not a lie when he hits the gap. He also has shown that he deserves his fair share of touches alongside Bubba Poole and Devontae Booker.
— Clint Shepard, DT/Dominique Hatfield, WR/DB
I lied. There's four stars because picking just three was too difficult.
Let's start with Shepard who, like Patrick, has gone from walk-on to starter. Shepard has continuously proven throughout camp that he can plug the middle with his 6-foot-2, 276-pound frame. One of the best moments of camp thus far is when he addressed Utah boosters after the second scrimmage and thanked them for their support and his scholarship.
Meanwhile, Hatfield has been all over camp. While fighting Patrick for a starting job as a receiver, Hatfield has jumped in to the secondary, too, to help there after Porter went down with his knee injury. Hatfield, who now practices at both spots, has turned into the team's jack of all trades and could see time at both positions.
O Captain, My Captain: The Utes voted on their five team captains on Friday. Wide receiver Dres Anderson and offensive lineman Junior Salt were each named captains for the offense. Nate Orchard and Brian Blechen were named defensive captains, and Whittingham said kicker Andy Phillips was a "landslide" vote for a new special teams captain.
Season opener: The Utes have a difficult season schedule but will get a soft start as they open their 2014 campaign Thursday versus FCS opponent Idaho State. The Bengals went 3-9 last season, but two of those wins were against Division II foes Dixie State and Western State Colorado. ISU also faced two FBS opponents in 2013, but lost at Washington 56-0 and to BYU, 59-13.
The pass-happy Bengals threw the ball 60 percent of the time last year and gained roughly 76 percent of their total offense through the air last season. Quarterback Justin Arias returns for his senior season after passing for 3,547 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. He also completed 56 percent of his passes and threw 14 picks.
The last three seasons, at least one Big Sky team has knocked off a Pac-12 team:3 comments on this story
— 2013: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
— 2012: Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28
— 2011: Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28
However, the Bengals were selected by the Big Sky coaches to finish 12th out of 13 teams in the conference and 10th in the media poll. The Utes also took care of their Big Sky opponent last season, defeating Weber State without a problem, 70-7.