This spring, Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley is working to strengthen the core of the defense.

In certain games during the 2022 season, the Utes displayed up-and-down performances on the defensive side of the ball. Still, they were able to capture their second straight Pac-12 championship

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“Scheme doesn’t win you football games. Behavior does,” Scalley said. “Looking at the film from last year, there were certain techniques that we felt we were not good enough, whether it was press-man, whatever it is, that’s what we’ve got to do better — the fundamentals and techniques of the game. Tackling better.

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“A lot of what you see in spring football is a lot more individual periods devoted to development and a lot less team periods devoted to scheme,” he added. “Right now, it’s just getting our guys as fundamentally and technically sound as we can. Yes, you have to work on team football and have a good enough scheme coming out of spring to have a base for fall camp. But for the most part, it’s making sure we’re playing sound defense.”

‘Real football’

The NCAA mandates that teams cannot put on full pads until they are a few days into spring practices. 

Now that Utah is wearing pads, it makes coach Kyle Whittingham’s job easier when it comes to building a physical team. 

“It’s real football. It’s not real football when you’re in just the helmets and you can’t hit anybody. Football is so physical. That element is so critical,” he said. “You can’t get a gauge on that unless you have the pads on. I don’t want to say that practices without pads are meaningless, but you really get your evaluations when you have the pads on.”

Learning together

Redshirt freshman running back Jaylon Glover has enjoyed the progress he and fellow redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Brandon Rose and Nate Johnson have made since they joined the program. 

“The guys I’m running with are the guys that I came here with — Brandon Rose and Nate Johnson. It’s exciting to see us coming up,” he said. “They’re learning and I’m learning. They’re looking good. It’s exciting to see what they’re working on. It’s fun.

“Now, I can definitely say we probably know the playbook from the back of our hand. Especially being here for a year, for those guys, they have a great leader like Cam (Rising) and for me, to have the older guys I have in the room to learn from. Being a year in, we can implement that we know what we’re doing.”

Jaylon Glover, left, and Ja’Quinden Jackson have some fun during spring camp at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. | Hunter Dyke, Utah Athletics