‘We took another big step forward’: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham reviews Saturday’s scrimmage
Saturday’s scrimmage lasted 115-120 snaps and was more situational than the previous scrimmage on April 2.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was pleased with what he saw from Saturday’s scrimmage, the second major one of spring practices.
“We just took another big step forward as a football team between scrimmage one and scrimmage two,” he said. “We need to do that again this week. There are still things that we need to get better at, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve got three opportunities on the field to do it and three opportunities in the film room to get things corrected. We’ve got to keep forging ahead and moving forward. This team has a really good attitude, a really good work ethic, outstanding leadership. Right now, it’s just a matter of continuing to get better at what we’re doing. There really is no huge, glaring deficiency at this point.”
“We just took another big step forward as a football team between scrimmage one and scrimmage two. We need to do that again this week. There are still things that we need to get better at, there’s no doubt about it.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham
The Utes are transitioning to their final week of spring drills, which will culminate next Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium with the annual Spring Game, which is slated to begin at noon and will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.
The University of Utah will allow up to 6,500 fans to attend.
“It will be great. We’re anticipating 6,500. Not everyone will get to go — typically we get about 10,000 for the spring game,” Whittingham said of having fans in the stands. “It’s a step in the right direction. Just hoping that we’re at full capacity in the fall. That may be a little optimistic but that’s what we’re hoping for.”
As for Saturday’s scrimmage, Whittingham said it lasted for 115-120 snaps and was more situational than the previous scrimmage on April 2.
The scrimmage featured series emphasizing red zone, two-minute and four-minute offense and short-yardage situations.
“We had it all,” Whittingham said.
Specifically, he liked how the offense displayed “much better tempo” in this scrimmage.
“One of the things that was a negative (last week) was the tempo of the offense. Too slow getting in and out of the huddle,” Whittingham said. “Much better in that regard this week. We did turn the ball over a couple of times today offensively. Bad for the ‘O,’ good for the ‘D.’ Good work in the red zone. The defense came up with a heckuva goal line stand on one of the series. A lot of production by the offense; much better job throwing the ball today than last week. It wasn’t bad last week but it was very good this week, guys making plays.”
Defensively, Whittingham highlighted the play of cornerback Clark Phillips III, cornerback Zemaiah Vaughn and linebacker Devin Lloyd.
“We had a bunch of guys making plays,” he said. “Clark Phillips had a nice interception and made some big plays. The defensive front was physical from start to finish. Zemaiah Vaughn made some nice plays. He’s adjusting to that corner spot, moving from safety. Devin Lloyd was all over the place, as always. He’s a guy that makes a ton of plays every practice.”
Whittingham noted that defensive lineman Mika Tafua sat out Saturday due to a minor injury.
“Overall, a lot of good play by the defense overall. Maybe didn’t tackle quite as well as last week,” the coach said. “But we did create some takeaways on that side of the ball. We had a nice goal line stand. Overall, a good effort and good hustle, good mentality by our defense today.”
Going into the scrimmage, Whittingham was hoping to see “cleaner execution” and “fewer mental mistakes.” That was accomplished Saturday, he said.
“The mental mistakes were way down. If you’re going to make mistakes, make new ones, don’t make the same mistakes over and over … eventually you run out of mistakes to make and you start to play good football.”
Twelve practices are in the books at Utah this spring and Whittingham is happy with the direction his team is going.
“Everyone’s taking a step forward collectively as a team, which has to happen,” he said. “Now we have three practices next week — full gear on Tuesday; no pads on Thursday. We’ll culminate with the spring game on Saturday at noon and it will be a wrap. Then we’ll be getting ready for summer conditioning, which starts June 1.”