SALT LAKE CITY — After an exhausting three weeks of 20 practices, Camp Kyle came to an end Saturday morning. An excited Utah football team is left with nine practices before facing Michigan Sept. 3.
"Everybody is juiced. Everybody can't wait," said Utah receiver Kenneth Scott. "We're tired of beating up on each other. Everybody is anxious and ready to play the first game."
Scott and the Utes are seeking to improve on last season's 9-4 finish. It's an achievable goal — assuming everyone stays healthy — thanks to a lethal special teams unit, solid defense and offense that finally has the same scheme for more than one year.
"We were good," Scott said of the 2014 season. "We're getting better because we started from last year's point."
The handful of returning starters — 17 to be exact — is a big reason the Utes are farther along in the process than this time last year. There's not much of a learning curve. Even some of the team's newcomers understand the playbook well. They impressed Scott, such as transfer running back Joe Williams.
"I didn't know he was that fast," Scott said.
But it was freshman quarterback-turned-receiver Britain Covey who caught the entire team's attention. Scott said the defense called the 5-foot-8, 166-pound receiver annoying throughout camp, especially in the running game. Covey's ability as a physical blocker became frustrating.
Despite the team's growth, Scott admits there's room for improvement. He said the biggest thing for the Utes is being consistent and efficient in every phase of the game.
Everybody is juiced. Everybody can't wait. We're tired of beating up on each other. Everybody is anxious and ready to play the first game.
"The defense needs to keep playing smash-mouth defense. Special teams needs to keep doing great," he said.
Everyone on the offense, according to Scott, must do what their assignment is to be "efficient and execute."
Then there's the mental aspect of the game. Scott often shares advice to Covey and other young receivers on what to expect throughout the year.
"The main thing I try to keep telling them is, 'Don't get too high and don't get too low,'" he said. "The hype can bring you down. No matter how much praise you get, you still have to work. Just because you make one play a day, coming back the next day you may not make as many plays. You have to be consistent throughout the whole thing. Be even and handle your business."
Scott, who was just voted by teammates as a team captain, said he gives the encouragement in hopes it is infectious and spreads around. Don't think he's doing it because of his new title as captain. It's just the way he is, providing passion and energy to his team.
"That title stuff doesn't mean anything to me," said Scott. "I just keep being my same self, providing passion and energy to everybody. Hopefully that's infectious and spreads around."
Until Utah's season begins, rest assured that the team is focused. The Utes are determined to win and aren't willing to give up. And being tough in every part of the game will hopefully get the team to a winning season. After all, Scott has had one goal throughout his time with the Utes.
"I'm trying to get a Rose Bowl before I get out of here," Scott laughed.
Holli Joyce is a University of Utah communications graduate and enjoys keeping up with the Utah Utes, Utah Jazz and Seattle Seahawks. In addition to covering Utah football for KSL.com, she is a Seahawks Correspondent for 12thManRising.com. Follow her on Twitter @Holli_Alexa.