In a Spring Game that saw 16 players held out for injuries or for precautionary reasons -- and quarterback Travis Wilson wearing a no-hit black jersey -- the Utah Utes football team set out to improve an offense that sputtered last season to a 5-7 record.
The verdict: Wilson's Red team hung on for a 28-27 win over the White team on Saturday, April 19 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. But, if you’re a Ute fan you should probably wait to see what happens once fall camp begins -- because few questions were answered on Saturday.
The teams played in front of a national TV audience on the Pac-12 Networks, the Utes 2009 Sugar Bowl champions and 12,000-plus fans yearning for a change from two years of bowl-less competition. Utah’s mostly first-team offense went up against a patchwork defense made up of backups, walk-ons and transfers and the results were good--but not great.
Led by Wilson, the Red team eked its way to a win. The junior quarterback -- who has been held out of full-contact all spring -- threw for 116 yards on 7-for-12 passing and one touchdown. You were left to wonder how effective Wilson would have been had he been live, however.
On the other side of the football, backup Adam Schulz was live and he threw for 110 yards on 9-of-13 passing and one touchdown for the Whites. Conner Manning was 9-for-12 passing for 86 yards and one touchdown as well.
Even Brandon Cox saw action at QB for the Red team, but he had mixed results, going 5-for-9 for 126 yards and one rushing TD. But he also threw two passes that were intercepted.
In a game that saw over 700 yards of total offense, you would expect there to be plenty of rushing and receiving yardage, too. And, you would have been right.
For the Whites, running back Devontae Booker had two touchdowns on 19 carries for 103 yards and wide receiver Dominique Hatfield had 93 yards receiving on four catches -- including a circus grab from Schulz that he turned into a touchdown.
For the winning Red team, they were buoyed early on by Cox, who scored the game’s first TD. Travis Wilson came into the game soon after and settled in nicely, proving he’ll be tough to beat out come fall. But with Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson arriving in August, you would be hard pressed to say Wilson won the job outright on Saturday at the Spring Game.