As practice ended on Thursday afternoon, the Utah football team seemed to be more relaxed and positive in what it’s accomplishing on the field.
“Good day, we did a lot of good work against each other and guys are making plays,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “They’re having fun, but if we’re not focusing and concentrating at the same time, then we got an issue. But there’s great focus, great concentration.”
Wide receiver Kenneth Scott said he feels as though the players have more freedom with the offense and he’s enjoying getting to take part in more of the action. He definitely feels more comfortable so far.
“They have me going down field like I was before, which is pretty fun,” Scott said.
Scott also said he sees an improved Travis Wilson out on the field.
“He’s confident in himself,” Scott said. “He’s confident in the play making around him so he’s able to dish the ball out more.”
Whittingham has continually said Wilson is the outright front runner at quarterback and the Utah head coach also sees a lot of confidence in his signal caller as of late.
“[Wilson is] doing a great job with his reads,” Whittingham said. “He’s decisive back there. He’s making good decisions and I think he’s playing his best football since he’s been in Utah. He has really picked up where he left off in the bowl game.”
While Wilson may have secured his position, he does not hesitate to ask the other potential quarterbacks for help. Chase Hansen in particular motivates him and they discuss what is going on each play.
“All the QBs are really competitive,” Wilson said. “Chase got a lot of the second team reps today so he’s always pushing me, I’m always trying to teach him up. We’re all super competitive and we all love each other. We all just want to see each be successful.”
Hansen took a majority of the snaps with the second team and Whittingham said he continues to prove himself. However, it is hard to say if he is for sure the number two guy with Kendall Thompson being limited to just throwing drills
“Chase has established himself as that next guy beyond Travis and Kendall and that’s why he’s getting all the reps,” Whittingham said.
Scott mentioned how all the wide receivers are stepping up each practice and will not name a standout amongst themselves for that reason. But he said Bubba Poole has been impressive.
“Everybody’s competing to have that [top] title,” Scott said. “Right now we have a good group of guys. He [Poole] makes a lot of plays. Once he fine tunes his details and route running and things like that, and gets familiar with the receiver role, he’s going to be really good.”
Scott said that he himself has a few things to work on, one big thing being blocking. During practice he has a tendency of turning his head when blocking, partly because this is how he has been injured in the past
“When you go to block somebody, you initially want to look back and you don’t want nobody falling on your ankles,” Scott said. “I had a problem with that because [it’s how] my ankle blew out.”
Overall, Scott thinks his group is aiming towards getting every single player the same amount of opportunity.
“[We’re] trying to build camaraderie with each other, getting everyone confident,” Scott said. “Trying to make everybody on the same level. Equality is a big thing, we want everybody to have the same chance to get better each day.”
The team expects to get Gionni Paul back on Tuesday, and that is something Whittingham is very excited for. Whittingham thinks Paul’s return will only add to what the defense has already accomplished this spring.
“[He’s] very important,” Whittingham said. “Not only a playmaker, but he’s a leader. Got a lot of passion, emotion for the game and that’s infectious [and it] rubs off on the other players.”
The Utes have a scrimmage on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium.