Not surprisingly, Utah’s tight ends made big plays during last Saturday’s 29-26 loss at Florida.

Brant Kuithe caught nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown while Dalton Kincaid had two receptions for 29 yards. 

“You get open, you demand the ball. If you’re not open, you don’t get the ball. It’s pretty simple. When they get open, Cam will get them the ball.” — Kyle Whittingham

“Brant’s a stud. He’s one of the best tight ends in the country,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “He’s a hybrid. Between him and Kincaid, few teams have a one-two punch like that.”

But the Utes were hoping for more production from the wide receivers, led by Devaughn Vele, who had three catches for 36 yards. 

“Devaughn Vele made some key catches,” Whittingham said.

Still, Whittingham wants to see the receivers make a statement.

Against Florida, was it a matter of the receivers’ inability to get open? Or was it a matter of what the Gators defense presented? 

“(Florida) did a great job of making sure they were staying deep and forcing us to take things underneath,” said quarterback Cam Rising. “That’s why we didn’t really push the ball downfield much.”

But Whittingham clearly wants to see “more production on the outside.”

“We sure got great production from Brant,” he said. “Devaughn Vele needs to have more of a presence in the game. Credit the Florida DBs. They’re quick, fast DBs. Those corners are outstanding. That’s as good a personnel as we may see all year long. Maybe the best. (Former Florida coach) Danny Mullen did a great job recruiting there and leaving that cupboard completely stocked.”

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Ute coaches want to see the receivers demand the ball. 

“You get open, you demand the ball,” Whittingham said. “If you’re not open, you don’t get the ball. It’s pretty simple. When they get open, Cam will get them the ball.”

Wide receivers coach Chad Bumphis also wants to see Vele become more of an impact player. 

“My thing with Devaughn is, whether you’re open or not, demand the ball. With your separation, with your mentality, the way you play the game, you are way too good to not demand the ball,” he said. “Cam should look for you every single play. We have unbelievable weapons all over the field. But I think that he’s one of those guys, too, along with (Solomon Enis).

“That’s been our conversation — demand the football with how you create separation and your body language and your mentality. Go out and dominate people — embarrass them in the throw game, dominate them in the run game.”

Vele said there are other ways to help the offense aside from catching the ball. 

“It’s a mentality of understanding that it’s about the team. As a receiver, you want the ball. You want that one-on-one coverage and you go up top and make a crazy play,” he said. “If they’re giving you a coverage where you’re not getting the ball that often, then you become a blocker. You emphasize blocking. … Little things like that.

“When you think selfishly, you’re taking away from the team. … That’s not what we teach here. That’s not the culture here at Utah. It’s about the team.”

Vele added that there were deep passes in the game plan but Florida’s coverage scheme changed that. 

Why loss to the Gators doesn’t ‘derail’ Utah’s plans

“We had a really big game plan. We had a bunch of deep passes, we had a lot of middle reads and run installations as well. Nothing really crazy, just sticking to what we do. We were trying to see what they were going to give us on defense, especially with a new coordinator at Florida,” he said. “We didn’t know if they were going to go man or try to fill up the box and then we’d have one-on-one shots. Or if they were going to go zone like they did the majority of the game.

“They did a lot of bracket coverage. … It was a little bit difficult to take deep shots. But with those kinds of coverages there are always those holes in the middle and that’s when someone else is going to shine. You try not to think about not getting the ball enough. It’s as long as you’re doing what you’re doing, somebody’s going to get open. Everybody is going to shine differently in each game.”

Bumphis would have liked to take more shots down field against the Gators in the passing game. 

“I thought they would have played us a little different. Cam does a great job at the line of scrimmage. He gets us into the right plays,” he said. “He’s a coordinator on the field. We all know that quarterbacks want to take shots down the field and receivers want to catch balls. But if the defense doesn’t present the look, we’ve got to get into the right play.”

Meanwhile, Bumphis was happy about the aggressiveness of his receivers against Florida. 

“Very physical. I was pleased with how they were in the run game. Obviously, you want them to do more in the throw game. No drops and they competed all night,” he said. “I challenged them to be physical and I saw a side of Solomon Enis that I hadn’t seen yet. He played with an edge, ticked off. It was good to see.”

Utes on the air 

Southern Utah (1-0) at No. 13 Utah (0-1) 

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Saturday, 11:30 a.m. MDT

Rice-Eccles Stadium 

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: ESPN 700

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