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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Utes show marked improvement in 'important' 2nd scrimmage

By Dillon Anderson, Contributor | Posted - Apr 8th, 2018 @ 8:48pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The question was only half-finished when Kyle Whittingham launched into his response.

Caused by a preamble that advanced the idea of Saturday’s scrimmage holding chief importance over the spring schedule, Whittingham had heard everything he needed to.

“Absolutely,” he interjected of the significance of the team’s second live scrimmage amid an April shower at Rice-Eccles Stadium. “The (Red and White) game will be watered down and there will be a limited defense. A lot of guys will sit out, so this was the major scrimmage of the spring today.”

In other words, Saturday held meaning for the program.

Coming off their first full week of increased live work (the team had been limited to just six to eight live reps prior to their first scrimmage eight days earlier), the Utes looked more comfortable across the board, resulting in an improvement on last week’s production despite limiting players like Chase Hansen, Bradlee Anae, Julian Blackmon and Zack Moss to precious few snaps.

In comparing his team’s overall performance on Saturday to the baseline established in the previous week, Whittingham called the effort “much cleaner,” citing reduced penalties, smoother mechanics in alignment and an overall improvement in execution.

On an individual basis, Whittingham specifically referenced the performances of Tyler Huntley, Moss and the entire offensive line as standouts, while offensive coordinator Troy Taylor gave an all-encompassing endorsement of a restyled receiving corps.

Taylor also spoke on the progress of his quarterback group, as Huntley, Jack Tuttle and Jason Shelley enjoyed extended playing time to varying degrees of success. A program that is no stranger to a preseason quarterback competition, Taylor said in reference to the state of the group: “They’re good. We’ve got guys at different stages. Jack (Tuttle) is a young guy. Jason (Shelley), this is his first spring. And I think they’re progressing. Drew Lisk has done a great job with the repetitions that he’s been given. And then Tyler has had a fantastic spring.”

Praise for the offense’s strong showing even flowed from defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, whose unit suffered from the absences of its three playmakers for most of the day. Helmed by anyone , every level of Utah's defense contributed to yielding big plays, while also failing to generate a consistent pass rush.

When asked if any player stood out on the defensive end, Scalley said no, adding, “The offense did some good things today.”

But while the impact of several players on both sides of the ball was apparent Saturday, Whittingham was quick to remind reporters that a lot can change before fall camp.

“No job is safe,” he said. “Everybody has to keep producing every day. We don’t have a definitive depth chart right now. … It’s still a work in progress. Nothing will be solidified completely until fall camp.”

Dillon Anderson is studying literary journalism as a student at the University of Utah. You can follow him on Twitter @DillonDanderson.

Dillon Anderson

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