Camp Kyle concluded over the weekend and we are less than two weeks from the Michigan Wolverines making their first ever appearance in Salt Lake City. Not much has changed in terms of perception of the this football team for me in the last 3 weeks. However 2 weeks of Camp has given me a few more answers and still a remaining question or two about Kyle Whittingham’s football team.
Questions that Camp Answered:
1. Who will take Domo Hatfield’s spot at corner-We spent the month of July fretting over how Utah could possibly survive without out their junior to be and best/most proven cornerback. After spending the first couple of days playing wide receiver, Cory Butler-Byrd made the move to the defensive side of the football (a spot he thrived in junior college) and has taken the starting job from Bryan Allen. Allen will be the 4th corner backing up Butler-Byrd and Reggie Porter. Utah must still answer the questions in “Game Situations” but they clearly have talent and now a hierarchy.
2. Who replaces Kaelin Clay in the return game-Clay’s impact in the return game last season was unquestionably huge. His ability to shift and flip the field was invaluable to the Utah Offense. Filling his return shoes in both the kick and punt games will not be easy, but with the amount of athleticism and speed that Utah has added to it’s roster the last couple of recruiting classes, there appears to be a number of capable candidates. Let’s start with the aforementioned Cory Butler-Byrd, who will likely be the #1 kick return man. Butler-Byrd excelled at this at the Junior College level, averaging 24.5 yards per return and taking one kick back to the house. Kyle Fulks and Britain Covey will likely back this position up. The surprise of Camp was freshman Britain Covey, the QB turned slot receiver, who’s has been elusive in the open field will get the first crack at returning punts. Covey, who stands just 5-7, is ultra quick and fast enough to be potentially very dangerous.
Questions that remain unanswered:
1. Who are the downfield playmakers-This was a major question heading into the Fall. Now it may be even a more confounding question. Why? Because Tim Patrick didn’t participate in anything except the “Pit” during Camp Kyle and the young WR’s at moments of brilliance but not great consistency. So for now, Kenneth Scott is the only proven commodity in the receiving corps. Names to keep an eye on…Tyrone Smith, Delshawn McClellon, Siaosi Wilson these three and perhaps Caleb Repp a converted TE will all play a role in the downfield pass game, but for now none are proven commodities.
2. How will Kendall Thompson be used-The #2 QB on the Utah depth chart has had a very good Fall Camp to this point and earned rave reviews from his Head Coach and Coordinators. He’s clearly a talent and a weapon to be utilized, but how and when? Is he a change of pace guy for a play or two? Does he get a series a quarter? Will he have a special package and situation? These are all the unknowns right now. It’s very clear that the Utah Offensive staff likes and values Thompson, but how do you use him, without disrupting the flow or confidence of the starter, Travis Wilson? It’s both a blessing and a slight curse for Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding, but I’m curious on September 3rd to see how it plays out.
9 days out from the opener at the time of publishing this piece. Utah is mostly locked in from a depth chart perspective. Now is focus on Michigan. Kyle Whittingham mentioned on Monday that they are looking at old Stanford, San Francisco and Florida tape to get a feel for what Michigan may look like schematically. Here’s Whittingham from Monday’s afternoon talking about his team and Michigan.
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