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Utah offense likes where it is as camp comes to an end

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s offense is where its wants to be. That’s the evaluation coming out of camp.

“I feel good. I’m glad we’ve got more time, but I feel great about where we’re at right now,” said offensive coordinator Troy Taylor. “We’ve still got some growth we’ve got to make, but as of right now, today, I feel good about it.”

So, too, does quarterback Tyler Huntley. The junior expressed confidence in the receivers, running backs and offensive line.

“Everybody,” he said.

Huntley’s comfort level is nothing new.

“We were a good offense last year. We just had a turn of events that caused our season to go a different way,” he explained. “But I always felt like it was a great offense — and for this year to come.”

The Utes, who open the season Aug. 30 at home against Weber State, have nine starters back on offense. In addition, sophomore receiver Britain Covey, a 2015 Freshman All-American, has returned from a mission.

At this point, Taylor, said he feels good about the depth chart. Even so, there’s the health aspect of it and a wait-and-see how some of the young guys emerge.

“We’ve got work to do,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “There’s still mistakes being made here and there that are drive-killers.”

The obvious key, he noted, is execution — avoiding things that will stall your offense like false starts, illegal formations and blow assignments.

“That’s what it takes to generate points,” Whittingham continued. “You’ve got to keep drives alive, and so that’s still a work in progress.”

Depth on the offensive line, a pecking order for the backup quarterbacks and seeing if the receiving corps can play fast without mistakes are a few things to be hammered out in the coming days.

Offensive installation, though, is pretty much complete.

“There’s some things that will go in throughout the year — little game plan things — but the bulk of the offense is in,” Taylor said.

Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley throws during practice in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley throws during practice in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A look at the state of Utah’s offense:

QUARTERBACKS: Whittingham acknowledged that Huntley is “the established guy” and the one everybody looks to on offense. He started in all 10 games he played last season. The battle for the No. 2 spot between redshirt freshman Jason Shelley and freshman Jack Tuttle could be decided Monday. However, Whittingham said no public announcement will be made — although a depth chart is expected to be released sometime in the week.

RUNNING BACKS: Junior Zack Moss, who ran for 1,173 yards last season, headlines the cast. Junior Armand Shyne is healthy again after missing all of 2017 with an injury. Freshman Devin Brumfield is a palyer to watch.

Utah running back Zack Moss runs during practice in Salt Lake City on Aug 2, 2018.
Utah running back Zack Moss runs during practice in Salt Lake City on Aug 2, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

WIDE RECEIVERS: Confidence is brewing here, even if experience is lacking. Aside from Covey (43 catches in 2015), not other receiver on the team has more than 30 receptions in a season. Juniors Demari Simpkins and Siaosi Mariner, along with sophomores Samson Nacua and Bryan Thompson, entered camp on top of the depth chart. Additional targets this season may include senior Jameson Field, redshirt freshmen Bronson Boyd and Jaylen Dixon, junior college transfer Derrick Vickers, as well as newcomers Solomon Enis and Terrell Perriman.

TIGHT ENDS: The Utes have given reps to a lot of players here. Junior Jake Jackson is the front-runner to start. Sophomore Connor Haller and freshman Cole Fotheringham are also in the mix to be on the next depth chart.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Four returning starters — left tackle Jackson Barton, center Lo Falemaka, right guard Jordan Agasiva and right tackle Darrin Paulo — give the Utes a solid foundation up front. The battle for the left guard spot began with junior Johnny Capra and senior Alani Havili-Katoa on the two-deep chart when camp opened. Redshirt freshman Nick Ford and sophomore Orlando Umana have since entered the picture. At tackle, freshman Braeden E. Daniels has also fared well in practices. The Utes hope to have at least eight linemen in their rotation. Junior center Paul Toala and redshirt freshman tackle Mo Unutoa could contend for depth as well.

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Utes elect captains

Utah football has elected linebacker Cody Barton, center Lo Falemaka, kicker Matt Gay, linebacker Chase Hansen, quarterback Tyler Huntley and punter Mitch Wishnowsky as its captains for 2018.