Whatever happened between the first offensive drive and the last for the Utah Utes football team during the first fall camp scrimmage on Tues. Aug. 12 is anyone's guess. One thing is certain though. The Utes offense has a lot of work ahead going into the brunt of fall camp--while the defense looked better than it has in months, possibly years.
With the Utes offense being the unit that had the most problems last year, hearing that quarterbacks couldn't throw the football, running backs couldn't run and wide receivers couldn't catch on Tuesday is probably not news Ute fans wanted to hear.
The good thing for those fans is it's still early in the process, a time when quarterbacks study more film and prepare for defenses to come, while running backs steel their eyes looking for gaps and holes through which they can run. In other words, everyone is just getting acclimated to being back in school--and fall camp classes are now in session.
Everything is new and exciting right now--and the offensive woes Utah displayed on Tuesday signify as much. Travis Wilson, who had been gunning the ball down field in early practices, completed just 8-of-21 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
The two TD tosses from Wilson were nothing to write home about. Working off of adrenaline alone, Wilson took his offense on the opening drive of the scrimmage and eventually found Dres Anderson running on a crossing route, hurling the football over Anderson's shoulder--which was caught in stride for the Utes' first score as Anderson tumbled into the end zone.
From that point forward, nothing went as smooth for Utah's offense. On another drive, Wilson again marched the Utes down the field, getting as far as the 1-yard-line. But, his hand off to running back Devontae Booker was bobbled, resulting in the defense--namely safety Tevin Carter--grabbing the football and running 89 yards the other way for a touchdown.
On drives when Wilson took a break and split reps with Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson, nothing spectacular happened either. Thompson showed off his ability to scramble when under duress--even scoring on a 15-yard scamper.
Yet, the three completions out of eight attempts for just 63 yards that Thompson racked up won't get him a starting job either. On the flip side, Thompson did lead Utah down the field on a separate drive and this time Booker did not fumble the ball--instead plunging in for a 1-yard touchdown.
For all that Booker is supposed to be for the Utes this season, he certainly didn't appear to be any of those things on Tuesday, running for just 17 yards on six carries. As a team, the Utes ran for 128 yards on the ground--an absolute disaster for a team that prides themselves on playing at a high tempo.
Highlights at wide receiver were few and far between also. JUCO transfer Tim Patrick had six catches for 81 yards to lead all receivers and was the only real bright spot on offense for Utah.
The defense was the star on the day, a unit that registered four sacks--and would have had more had Wilson not been off limits to live action--batted down seven passes, had three tackles for losses and recovered two fumbles.
"I was pleased with the way the defense flew around and made tackles," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham post-scrimmage. "But we have a lot of work to do on offense. Our execution was not what it should be and we need to make a lot of improvement between now and the second scrimmage (on Saturday)."