Jacob Wiegand, Deseret News
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham yells to his team practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 30, 2018.
Bottom line is it was a great work day. —Utah coach Kyle Whittingham

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham made no ifs, ands, or even buts about it. Saturday’s situational scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium was the most important such gathering of the spring for the Utes.

“Definitely was, absolutely,” Whittingham said. “The spring game will be watered down. It’ll be limited defense; a lot of guys will sit out. This was the major scrimmage of the spring.”

Despite the rainy weather, Whittingham was all sunshine as he left the field. He described the scrimmage as “outstanding” and much cleaner than last week. Whittingham noted more production on offense and very few penalties. Overall execution also drew praise.

“Bottom line is it was a great work day,” he said.

Although no final statistics were made public, the offense had a good showing. Redshirt freshman Jaylen Dixon caught four touchdown passes. Quarterbacks Tyler Huntley, Jack Tuttle and Jason Shelley performed well, and Whittingham noted that the protection was really good, particularly by the first unit.

“It went good. We came out executing our plays and just putting our best foot forward,” Huntley said. “Our receivers made some great plays today, and our offensive line gave us good time to throw the ball. So it was great.”

Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor was also pleased, although he would have liked to have converted on a two-minute situation at the end. Even so, Taylor said that pretty much everybody played well. Running backs T.J. Green, Zack Moss and Armand Shyne bolstered the effort with touchdowns

As well as things went on offense, Whittingham said there was some ”give and take” with the defense. He thought they won some situations down the stretch.

Junior defensive back Josh Nurse had an interception in the scrimmage and sophomore defensive end Maxs Tupai recovered a fumble.

Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said the defense was sluggish early on. He didn’t think they covered or tackled very well at the start of the scrimmage. However, things improved in the situational work.

“Our guys play hard,” Scalley said. “This will be good film for our guys.”

Whittingham noted that the “whole team improved” in the scrimmage.

The Utes enter their final week of spring ball with practices Tuesday and Thursday. The annual Red-White Game is Saturday.

“We’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got left and then we’ve got a chance this fall to be pretty good,” Whittingham said. “It depends of how hard they’re willing to work in the summer and how much leadership we can continue to generate and those good things.”

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