Before I get into my scrimmage report a short aside. I was met by some Utah official or something and made sure I was media so I could go down to the field which there was no problem or anything, but the guy who was walking near me was a photographer and asked where so I told him the generic SB Nation. He went oh, and kind of walked away quite quickly or at least it seemed to me it went that way. Whatever, I am not new to this line of work just covering it for something else.
Now, onto the scrimmage. First I do not get why a lot of the other media stand on the field because it is hard to see what is going on. The stands are much better and since this was at Rice Eccles it worked great. The first team offense did not get a ton of snaps in the scrimmage but they were pretty productive with what they had to work with.
The first 15 or so minutes of the scrimmage was kind of sloppy on offense with receivers falling down, dropping passes, and causing false start penalties. I chalk that up to some sort of jitters with the first full scrimmage. One concern that I saw was on the offensive line with JUCO transfer John Cullen. He did have that minor knee injury from practice the other day, but he was in. However, I notice nearly every running play go to the right side of the offense and very few if any on the first drive go behind Cullen. Also, he was beat at least two times and both lead to a touch sack on the quarterback, so that was a mild concern. Later on in the day during the red zone offense and two minute offense Cullen looked fine.
This offense does look really good and my favorite play in the Utah offensive playbook that has been dormant the past few years was brought out on the first play which was the shuffle pass. They ran that a few times and I think it is a great play to have. The defensive number ones and against the offensive ones were abused on the running game as Eddie Wide ran pretty good with getting a chunk of yards that included a 40 yard rush.
Terrance Cain looked really good at quarterback with the second team and if I am correct was in with some of the first team receivers at times. He was super accurate as he went 14-16 for 184 and two scores, and no those passes were not all underneath or short slant passes. He actually threw a very nice 15 or 20 yard out that was right on the money on the sideline. He was throwing deep, deep post routes, and overall threw a bevy of different types of passes. The quarterback position looks to be very solid.
Griff Robles who is the third string quarterback looked really good as well in running the offense. He was only three of five passing, but he ran the ball seven times and since he is a bigger player he was tough to bring down.
The player of the day was junior college RB Tauni Vakapuna who had 123 yards on seven carries, yes one was 92 yards but his other carries looked strong and he was tough to take down on his runs. The relative ease that the running game was having against all defensive units should make Utah fans worry since Pitt has RB Dion Lewis who rushed for over 1,600 yards and is a bowling ball heading down the field.
Receivers stepped up in this scrimmage with Reggie Dunn leading the way with six catches and 83 yards and right behind him is Griff McNabb who is listed as 5 feet eight inches and came away with six catches and 75 yards. This crew looked real good and is real deep.
The defense needs some work and the hope to Utah fans is that the coaches can put things together, especially with the prospect of maybe a true freshman starting in the secondary and another looking to see significant playing time.
The return game which has had their fair share of issues with dropped punts, but today there was zero dropped punts. On kick returns the Utes looked real good by getting a handful of returns to midfield and beyond.
Overall the offense is great but the defense needs work on the rush defense. The pass rush on the defense was their bright spot as they had maybe six sacks and applied a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks.
WR Jereme Brookes and RB Matt Asiata were held out of today's scrimmage for precautionary reasons.