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Utah Utes football wraps up first full scrimmage

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2015 7:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn't perfect and at times it wasn't very pretty.

Even so, Utah's first camp scrimmage was still viewed as a step in the right direction. The Utes got a lot of work done Thursday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"I thought it went well, one of the cleaner, most efficient first scrimmages of fall camp that we've had in recent years," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted that both the offense and defense did some nice things.

Quarterback Jordan Wynn saw his most extensive live action since having shoulder surgery in December. The junior responded favorably by completing 9-of-17 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown.

Whittingham said it was nice to have Wynn back in the lineup and was pleased that his first two drives with the offense were sustained marches of 16 and 13 plays.

"I thought I threw pretty good," Wynn said. "I'd like to complete a few more passes but overall I thought I did pretty well. I was hitting the right spots."

Wynn has been on a pass count, for precautionary reasons, throughout camp. He didn't throw any passes in practice Wednesday in order to rest his arm for the scrimmage.

"Jordan is getting there. That was his first live work in a long time," said wide receiver DeVonte Christopher, who led the Utes with four receptions for 102 yards. "So it felt good to see him out there and to be catching balls from him and to have to him lead us in the huddle."

Wynn's biggest struggles came on the center exchange. He put the ball on the ground a couple of times on snaps from center Tevita Stevens.

"Just a lack of focus," Wynn said. "I've got to stay under center and not leave early. That's on me."

New offensive coordinator Norm Chow has Wynn lining up under center more often, and the transition is taking time.

"Being under center is new to us. We're still working the kinks out. We're working on it pre-practice, in practice, post-practice," Whittingham said. "That's something that's a point of emphasis and will continue to be."

It's something, he added, that has to become flawless.

Backup quarterback Jon Hays had a particularly tough outing. He completed just 4-of-12 passes for 27 yards and was intercepted three times, enduring heavy pressure and multiple sacks.

Chow acknowledged that mistakes are expected in the first scrimmage. The miscues, however, didn't overshadow everything.

"The effort and the attitude was absolutely terrific," Chow said.

While acknowledging there was still a lot of work to do, many of the Utes left the field with a bright outlook.

"It was probably one of the better first fall scrimmages that I've been a part of," Wynn said. "I think the offense came out and did well. We've just to continue to grow on that."

The offense scored touchdowns on a 26-yard pass from Wynn to Luke Matthews and on an eight-yard run by Tauni Vakapuna.

John White IV led the Utes with 47 yards on 12 carries, while Vakapuna finished with 42 yards on seven rushes. Thretton Palamo and Harvey Langi, who entered camp on top of the depth chart with White, managed just 21 and 10 yards, respectively.

Nine receivers caught passes, but only Christopher and Matthews had more than one reception.

"I think it went well for the first scrimmage," Matthews said. "Just coming out here, getting all the plays and finally going against a defense the whole time, it felt good to get out here and do that."

Opportunities were plentiful as the coaching staff sought to get a look at most of the players in camp. On offense, nine players carried the ball and nine made receptions.

Contributions varied on defense as well.

Defensive end Nate Fakahafua had a strong showing. The freshman scored the first points of the scrimmage with a 23-yard return for a touchdown. He also one of nine defenders — joining Derrick Shelby, Matt Martinez, Dave Fagergren, Joape Pela, Michael Walker, Brian Blechen, LT Tuipulotu (two) and Trevor Reilly — to have a tackle-for-loss.

"Nate Fakahafua is guy that's got a ton of potential and a very high ceiling. He's playing great football for us right now," Whittingham said. "He's a guy that's going to be on the field this year."

Reilly also scored on an interception, taking a pick back 43 yards for a score. Other standouts include cornerback Mo Lee. The receiver-turned-cornerback intercepted a pass.

"I want to single him out," Whittingham said. "He's been getting better each day and he's going to be challenging for one of those starting corner jobs if he continues on the track that he's on."

Senior Lei Talamaivao registered two sacks to lead three others with one. He also had a pass breakup to join five of his teammates in doing so.

"We played really well today, I thought. We didn't really have a lot of missed assignments. We had a couple and that's it," said defensive end Joe Kruger. "Overall I thought we had a good performance today."

Kickers Coleman Petersen and Nick Marsh each connected on short field goals (30 and 29 yards, respectively) during live work. They had mixed results, however, on situational kicks — teaming to miss three of less than 37 yards and getting one blocked.

Utah camp report

DAY 7: The Utes held a situational scrimmage Thursday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

STANDOUTS: Jordan Wynn (152 yards passing), DeVonte Christopher (102 yards receiving) and John White IV (47 yards rushing) headlined the offense. Defensive end Nate Fakahafua and linebacker Trevor Reilly returned interceptions for touchdowns to highlight widespread contributions on defense.

INJURIES: Nothing new, just a bunch of bumps and bruises.

NEXT UP: The second two-a-day of camp is set for Friday.

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