On Monday, the Utes took the field for the first time since December, and though the pads weren’t on, the enthusiasm was there. Tuesday came, and much of the same, players flying around the field, and it seems that the Utes are determined to wash away the thoughts of 2017.
Coming off their worst season since 2013, a 7-6 finish last fall now seems like a distant memory to Utah fans, with returning starters back, and new faces putting on the red helmet for the first time.
The big story of spring ball, are the quarterbacks. Tyler Huntley is back for his junior season, after an impressive 2017 campaign, but also a fall where we saw him deal with injuries.
Huntley, who the coaches want to put on 20 lbs, definitely looked bigger on Tuesday than he did in December. Though still not at the coaches desired weight, Huntley looked good on Tuesday, comfortable in the pocket, eluding pass rushers, and also making throws on the run. Its clear, even with competition, that Huntley leads the team.
Jack Tuttle, the highly sought after quarterback from Southern California, who enrolled early at Utah, also showed signs of good things to come. During 7 on 7’s later in the practice, Tuttle hit redshirt-freshman Bronson Boyd in stride for a touchdown down the sideline. Tuttle also threw an interception at the goal line when the Utes were down near the end zone.
Tuttle also has the look for a quarterback, with a commanding presence in the pocket. Fellow QB Jason Shelley showed promise as well in passing drills and against the defense, using his shiftiness.
As far as receivers go, the Utes are looking to replace Darren Carrington and Raelon Singleton. Demari Simkins, although dropping a pass early in practice, showed off his speed. Fellow junior Siaosi Mariner, with his size, will create a matchup problem for corners in the fall.
Speed is something that the Utes don’t have to worry about regarding the rest of their receiving group. Boyd and other redshirt freshman Jalen Dixon showed just how they dangerous they could be on Tuesday when they get the ball in the open.
Defensively, the line is something that the Utes will have to work on. Though talent isn’t something they’re short on, only one starter returns. Chase Hansen, once defensive back, has now shifted to linebacker, and looked comfortable in that role on Tuesday when going up against the offense.
A new face that also looked good in Ute red was Vonte Davis, a junior college transfer, who will be playing cornerback.
Finally with coaching, Gary Andersen is back with the Utes for the first time since 2008. The former Oregon State head coach has found his way back to Salt Lake City, and will be assisting on the defensive side of the ball.
The Utes will hold four more spring-practices until shutting down for spring break, resuming camp on Mar.26th. The red-and-white game will be held Apr.14th.