SALT LAKE CITY — Utah announced its two-deep roster for its Thursday opener against Weber State on Monday afternoon — and there weren’t many surprises.
Tyler Huntley is the starting quarterback, Zack Moss the guy at running back. Britain Covey is back in his favored slot receiver position, with Demari Simpkins manning the flanker role.
On defense, Bradlee Anae holds down the left defensive end spot, Cody Barton and Chase Hansen are your starting linebackers and the secondary, with the likes of Julian Blackmon, Marquise Blair, Jaylon Johnson and Corrion Ballard, went as most expected.
While the Utah starters were and are pretty well established, the reserve roles, the No. 2s, were still up in the air at many positions, most notably quarterback.
Consider that particular question answered.
Jason Shelley, a redshirt freshman out of Texas, is the Utes' backup quarterback.
“It was a very heated battle between No. 2 and 3 and Jason just slightly edged out Jack,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “That combined with the fact that Jack has a redshirt year and Jason doesn’t put us in a situation where Jason is our No. 2 and Jack is No. 3. They are still competing, Jack will continue to get reps throughout the course of each week, but for right now that is how it is. Something might change, but for now, we plan to use Jack’s redshirt this year and get him an extra year of eligibility.”
Another position where the backups were more than unsettled was at linebacker. Behind Hansen and Barton, Utah had some questions, with Donavan Thompson, Francis Bernard, Bryant Pirtle, Devin Lloyd and Chris Hart all in the mix for playing time.
All may still see the field, but it is Thompson and Bernard who will be the primary backups, Thompson behind Barton and Bernard behind Hansen.
Bernard's accession to the backup role is particularly impressive, considering he joined the program just two weeks ago.
“Francis has gotten better and better ever since he has joined us, which you’d expect,” Whittingham said. “Obviously he was a little bit out of shape, not grossly, but a little. He didn’t have a great knowledge of our scheme either, but he has been on an upward trajectory ever since he got in our program.
"He is a tremendously hard worker who pays attention to detail and works extra hard in the film room. He is a guy that just kept elevating himself in each practice by making plays. That is why he is here and that is why we welcomed him with open arms.”
OFFENSIVE LINE ROTATION: Nick Ford and Orlando Umana were listed together on the two-deep, at right guard, meaning the job is still up for grabs.
“It will be decided through their play. It is going to be about productivity,” said Whittingham. “Both of them are going to get reps, and if there comes separation between the two, a definite separation, reps will be divided up accordingly. If they continue to be on equal footing they will both continue to play.”
Whittingham added that Ford will the be the first man up at either tackle position if injury or issue befall Jackson Barton or Darrin Paulo.
WIDE RECEIVER DEPTH: Solomon Enis was not listed on the two-deep, but the expectation is that he will see considerable time on the field.
“Solomon is going to play,” Whittingham said. “We just have a pretty talented group of receivers. Solomon is going to figure into what we are doing this year. We have some guys that we think are good players and Solomon is right there amongst those guys. He just is not quite in the two-deep, despite being in the rotation.”
It is a different story for Terrell Perriman, however.
“Terrell is a little further away. He most likely will be a redshirt,” said Whittingham. “With the new rule, what is a redshirt anyway. He’ll play some, but hopefully not more than four games.”
SPECIAL TEAMS UPDATE: Heading into fall camp, Matt Gay had designs on assuming the kickoff role, and for the Weber State game at least, the job is his. Freshman Maddie Golden, who was recently placed on scholarship, will be the short snapper, while Keegan Markgraf is expected to hold down the long snapper position.