I want them to know that they can trust me and that I can be the guy. Obviously there were mistakes made (Tuesday) during the scrimmage. So that’s my responsibility to get that fixed and I’ll make sure things like that don’t happen again. —Utah quarterback Travis Wilson
SALT LAKE CITY — Travis Wilson admits it ticked him off when Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said that the Utes didn’t have a starting quarterback based on performances in Tuesday’s scrimmage.
Although Whittingham has since clarified his remarks explaining that he didn't mean to give the impression that the quarterbacks weren't good players — only that they didn't perform as expected in the scrimmage — Wilson is using it as extra fuel.
“I want them to know that they can trust me and that I can be the guy,” Wilson said. “Obviously there were mistakes made (Tuesday) during the scrimmage. So that’s my responsibility to get that fixed and I’ll make sure things like that don’t happen again.”
Wilson, who was the front-runner in a battle with Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson for the starting job, enters Saturday’s scrimmage in what Whittingham describes as a “wide open” competition for the job.
After having an error-free camp in terms of fumbles and interceptions, Wilson had a pair of poor exchanges in Tuesday’s scrimmage and completed just 8-of-21 passes. He called his performance “frustrating,” especially the turnovers — the elimination, thereof, has been a focal point for him in camp.
Wilson was also displeased by the offense’s slow start overall.
“It’s definitely, definitely frustrating,” he said. “It’s part of us and me especially as a leader, too.”
Wilson is determined not to let it happen again.
“It’s something where I’ve got to improve on. I’ve got to make sure people will come ready to practice, ready to get better and that they’ve all bought into the practice,” Wilson said. “So that’s my job — just making sure kids are staying focused and staying locked in. So that’s part of me where I’ve got to get better.
“But I know a lot of kids learned from the scrimmage (Tuesday),” he continued. “I know I’ve just got to keep working on those aspects as well.”
Motivation surrounds Wilson, who has been cleared to play again after missing the last three games of 2013 when an intracranial artery injury was discovered.
“Obviously I’m blessed to be able to play football again. I didn’t think I was going to be able to. So I’m really blessed in that aspect,” Wilson said. “I think we have a great group of guys on this team. I think we have a true brotherhood that we haven’t had for the last couple of years, and we’ve got a lot of good talent, a lot of young talent that just came in. So I think this team is capable of doing some really good things. We’ve just got to make sure we put it all together and just keep on working hard in fall camp.”
TWO THINGS: Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen made it clear what he wants in a starting quarterback.
“I’m looking for who can move the offense and protect the football,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. The two things you’ve got to do as a quarterback is you’ve got to move the offense and you’ve got to protect the football.”
ICE, ICE BABY: Whittingham, kicker Andy Phillips and wide receivers Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott participated in the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” after Friday morning’s practice. Before having a bucket of ice water poured on him by Wilson, Whittingham challenged former Utes Tony Bergstrom, Paul Kruger and Eric Weddle to do the same. He also invited actress Reese Witherspoon to participate.
“I don’t know. I like her movies. How about that?” Whittingham said about including Witherspoon in his challenge. “Let me leave it at that. (Is) my wife around?
As for how the ice felt, Whittingham liked it.
“It felt good. I’d like to do that every day,” he said. “I’d like to turn that into a ritual. So, no problem with that — actually pretty refreshing.”
EXTRA POINTS: All Utah camp practices and scrimmages are closed to the public. The annual Fan Fest is set for Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 23 from 6-9 p.m. Sophomores Isaac Asiata and J.J. Dielman continue to be the front-runners at right guard and right tackle, respectively. They’ll get a final look at being the starters in Saturday’s scrimmage. Whittingham noted that redshirt freshman Salesi Uhatafe is still pushing Asiata and that true freshman Jackson Barton and sophomore Sam Tevi are still in the mix competing with Dielman.