Utah football is in the middle of its final week of spring practices and coach Kyle Whittingham said there’s been “steady progress” by his players. 

Truth is, it hasn’t felt much like spring due to the weather. Tuesday, for example, it was blustery, cold and overcast, but instead of going indoors, the teams practiced outside in the elements.

Saturday marks the culmination of spring ball with the annual spring scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium. 

Last month, the school announced that the spring game has been rebranded as the 22 Forever Game in honor of Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe.

“Overall, it was a very good practice,” Whittingham said Tuesday, adding that there will be a non-padded practice Thursday before letting the players “play in a game environment on Saturday.”

Reporters were allowed to watch the last portion of practice Tuesday that featured series quarterbacked by Brandon Rose, Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson

The highlight of the media viewing session was Barnes’ long pass down the sideline to Devaughn Vele

Johnson, who has been sidelined with an injury, returned to practice Tuesday. 

After practice, Whittingham offered his assessment of the quarterbacks and the race to be starter Cam Rising’s backup this fall. 

“Brandon Rose, I think, it appeared to be his best day of spring today. He’s continuing to separate himself, although it’s still … nothing is settled or definitive at this point,” he said. “It was good to see Nate Johnson back on the field today.”

What did Whittingham like about Rose’s performance? 

“Accuracy. He did a nice job handling the elements,” he said. “It was windy out here but he still completed a bunch of balls. Much better job taking charge in the huddle and having that leadership air to him and being the guy that showed a lot of confidence today.”

Whittingham added that he feels good about the trajectory of the quarterbacks. 

When asked about the biggest surprise overall of the spring, Whittingham mentioned several players on both sides of the ball. 

“Offensively, (running back) Jaylon Glover has really shown up this spring. (Wide receiver) Money Parks continues to take steps forward. (Offensive lineman) Falcon Kaumatule right now is running No. 1 at left tackle,” he said. “He’s had a good spring. Defensively, the usual suspects — (defensive ends) Connor O’Toole, Jonah Ellis, Logan Fano have done a nice job this spring. Linebacker-wise, Justin Medlock has made a bunch of progress. In the secondary, (safety) Sione Vaki has picked up right where he left off in the fall. He’s a tremendous player. (Cornerback) Miles Battle has been a good addition at corner.”

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Whittingham reiterated that he loves his depth on the defensive line while he is concerned about the depth at wide receiver. 

“Loaded,” is how Whittingham described the D-line position. “The defensive end has six deep as does the D-tackles. Barring disaster, we should be in good shape at those two spots. Those guys are all deserving of playing time right now. It’s a really talented group.”

And the Utes’ biggest need right now is at receiver, according to Whittingham. 

“Depth at wide receiver. We’ve got to develop that,” he said. “That is the room that, right now, is not as deep as it needs to be.”

Could help come from the transfer portal?

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“Either that or guys keep getting better or a combination of the two,” Whittingham said. “We’ll see. That, right now, is not where it needs to be.”

The coach is very happy with the depth on the offensive line. 

“We feel like we’ll come away with ten guys that we’d have no problem using in a game if we needed to,” he said. “If you can have ten guys on the offensive line, that gives you a solid two-deep, that’s what you’re looking for.”

As for special teams, Whittingham had this evaluation of punter Jack Bouwmeester and placekicker Cole Becker: “Jack has had an outstanding spring. Cole is really starting to come on. He started slow, but he’s starting to come on now.”

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