Defense continues to dominate in Utes spring scrimmage

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SALT LAKE CITY -- On a clear, sunny day, following a weekend of winter- like snowy weather, the Utah Utes held their second scrimmage of spring training at Rice-Eccles Stadium. With the summer season lacking an abundance of sporting events, a football game was easily welcomed.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham went into the game stating that Monday's scrimmage was one of the most important practices of spring training. Whittingham previously mentioned that the spring game was a watered down version of all the team's offensive and defensive schemes.

It was all defense Monday afternoon, with the offense struggling to put together consistent runs.

"I expected the defense to be ahead the entire spring," coach Whittingham commented. "We've been running the same defense for a few years now. The defensive line was doing a good job getting pressure, getting their hands up."

"Jordan Wynn is our guy, no doubt about that," Whittingham said. "In essence, we're trying to figure out who will be the backup. Right now nobody has separated themselves from the other.

The defense forced three interceptions and managed to block one punt. Free safety Terrell Reese intercepted a pass from Griff Robles for an 81- yard run, nearly missing the end zone for a touchdown.

The offensive team struggled to put together consecutive runs, with several players out because of injury.

"We need to start getting some continuity in the offensive line," Whittingham stressed. "We've been shuffling guys with all the guys we have dinged up. We've certainly got a long ways to go to where we need to be to compete in the Pac-12."

With offensive coordinator Norm Chow tweaking the offense, young players joining the team and injured players out, it is expected that the offense will take some time to get things clicking.

Despite the offensive struggles, coach Whittingham was positive about the production of the offense in the red zone. The red zone was one area of the field that the defense struggled to hold the offense.

Backup quarterbacks Griff Robles and Tyler Shreve struggled today trying to connect with their receivers. Robles went six-of-13 for 47 yards and three interceptions. Shreve faired a little better going 11-of-25 for 107 yards and one interception.

Both quarterbacks have strong enough arms to hit their receivers, but a lack of communication limited their success in Monday's scrimmage. Shreve looked more comfortable behind the line, with Robles appearing to be rushed.

"Jordan Wynn is our guy, no doubt about that," Whittingham commented. "In essence, we're trying to figure out who will be the backup. Right now nobody has separated themselves from the other. One quarterback will look better in one practice. It will be just the opposite in another practice. There are practices where they put things together and they look like they're making progress. It looked like they might have taken a backward step today."

Asked if he's starting to feel comfortable in the offense, Shreve said: "I feel like I'm doing pretty well. The coaches have done a really good job of getting me ready. Every practice is a little better. Something gets better every day. I've just got to stay composed and do what my coaches have been teaching me the whole time."

Utah will have two final practices Wednesday and Friday, before concluding their spring training Saturday in the Red-White spring game. Saturday's game starts at 1:00 p.m. and is open to the public.

*E-mail:*Twitter: @JFurKSL

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Josh Furlong Sports Writer


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