Although the spring game is a light-hearted, fun opportunity for fans to experience football in the spring, there is business to attend to, and the University of Utah football team did just that on a warm Saturday afternoon.
With alumni aplenty on the field and players competing against their teammates, the Red and White teams got to work ironing out the kinks in front of a crowd of about 8,000 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, a masterpiece in architecture that is also getting an upgrade.
It was announced before the game that the Garff family — one of a handful of families whose last names can be found around the university — has committed $17.5 million to aid in the completion of the southern endzone rennovations.
This new area, which will now be called the “Ken Garff Performance Zone,” has been the focal point of much of the university’s athletic capitol. The entire hierarchy of Utah football was in attendance for the day’s big announcement — President Ruth Watkins, Athletic Director Mark Harlan, Bob and Kathi Garff and head coach Kyle Whittingham, all of whom were excited for the news and the idea that the stadium renovation was officially in motion.
“We are incredibly grateful for the continuing generosity of the Garff family,” President Watkins said. “This extraordinary gift will dramatically improve the fan experience at Rice-Eccles Stadium during football games and other events.”
Once the announcement was made, Whittingham had another job to do. The Red-White Game kicked off, and the teams got right to work. A lot of new players got their first looks at the field and, although both sides of the ball were admittedly simplified, there were some great things to take away from the game itself.
Tyler Huntley is Fine
Now-senior starter Tyler Huntley had a very productive performance in his short time on the field. His first pass was an 80-yard bomb, which was perfectly placed to the wideout and, had it not been for a defensive stop, would have been an easy touchdown. Huntley went 8-of-9 for 158 yards, and had a rushing touchdown to end a great day back from injury.
Jason Shelley, who held the fort as best he could last season, had a solid outing as well for the White team. He completed seven of 10, and added a touchdown to complete a 87-yard day.
The focal point of the day was definitely the offensive line play. With several All Pac-12 caliber talents leaving last season, the O-line got a complete makeover, and three of the five spots will see new starters. Utah has a knack for finding offensive line talent, and coupled with Huntley’s mobility and quick arm, it should make for an easy transition.
Several Injured Players Debut
Devonta’e Henry-Cole made his official return to the field after sitting out all of last season. Henry-Cole missed out on all of the action after sustaining a leg injury. However, he will return to the running back position to help the Utes out this season.
Although Britain Covey missed the bowl game at the end of last season due to a torn ACL, the junior wide receiver will make a full recovery and will be back on the field come August. He did not compete in today’s game, but he still came out to support the Red and White teams.
It was a fun and friendly affair, but the 2019 Spring game gave everyone a good look at this year’s Utah football team.