Utah football 'pulled back' a bit in day 2, but 'way ahead' of last year

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SALT LAKE CITY — The second day of fall camp for Utah belonged solely to the defense Thursday.

Led by junior Julian Blackmon, the defense had the upper hand in the media observation period of practice. Blackmon was tight on coverage and rejected anything that was thrown his direction, leaving little for the quarterbacks to work with.

Blackmon was not alone, though, as the secondary continued to be a thorn in the offense’s side. Sophomore Javelin Guidry and freshman Malone Mataele were some of the standouts, breaking up quarterback passes.

Although the defense might have shined in the media portion of practice, head coach Kyle Whittingham there was nothing to read into it. He added that the game plan was “pulled back” a bit Thursday to bring balance to the practice schedule.

“You don’t want to come out of the gates too hard,” he said. “You end up getting fatigued and pulled and that type of thing early on, so today was quite a bit shorter and less reps — less workload. We’ll go back and heavy it up again and then back off. It’s a juggling act so you’re not overdoing it.”

Overall, though, Whittingham said the practice was similar to the first day in terms of intensity and energy and that the program is farther along than it was last year at this time.

Running back depth

Utah is in a particularly good position at running back, with a plethora of talented athletes behind starter Zack Moss chomping at the bit to get playing time. The talent pool may be deep, but Whittingham said he’s not looking to spread the ball around.

“You don’t divvy up the carries,” Whittingham said. “You go with the guy that’s the most productive. Unless you earn the carries, you’re not going to get them.”

Armand Shyne has still yet to play a down of football outside practice since 2016 due to injury, but is expected to be the No. 2 option behind Moss. But Whittingham said freshman Devin Brumfield and redshirt freshman T.J. Green have come out strong so far in camp. Whittingham, specifically, said Green “has really made progress” and that he’s made “giant strides” since last season.

Whittingham failed to mention Devonta’e Henry-Cole as one of the running backs in the mix, but it’s unclear whether Henry-Cole is buried in the depth chart or whether it was merely an oversight. Henry-Cole has gotten playing time in practice, though. The real test will come when the players put on pads and start taking hits.

Tyler Huntley and the zone read

The constant battle between when to keep the ball and when to hand it off in the zone read can be difficult for quarterbacks. But junior quarterback Tyler Huntley has a full year of tape to review and believes he did well in his first season of play.

“Sometimes I didn’t need to pull it in some situations, but it’s the first year,” Huntley said. “So going on my second year I can’t wait to get on it. We’re going to see a difference.”

Whittingham added that Huntley made some incorrect decisions, but that he wasn’t as concerned with those as he was with his quarterback taking the hits he did, which was a “big deal with me.” He added, though, that Huntley will remain a major part of their run game and that “we’re never going to stop running him because he’s so valuable in that regard.

“He’s got to do a much better job of getting out of harm's way,” he added. “That’s what he’s going to do this year. But he will continue to run the zone read.”

Tyler Huntley throws to a receiver. Photo: Josh Furlong, KSL.com

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer covering University of Utah athletics — primarily football, men’s and women's basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.


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