Thoughts From the Gridiron: 2021 Utah Spring Football Game


Kevin Cody

University of Utah Spring Football Game on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


Utah fans rejoiced as for the first time in almost two years, Rice-Eccles Stadium welcomed fans to watch the Utes take the field. While the red team defeated the black 21-0, there were standout performances on both sides of the ball.

Black Defense

The black defense had their hands full, facing seasoned veteran quarterback Charlie Brewer and several of the top receivers on the depth chart. Overall, they had 47 total tackles, 23 of which were solo. They also recorded three sacks, five tackles for loss and one pass breakup. They did have an interception in the third quarter as Ja’Quinden Jackson threw into triple coverage, but it was called back due to a holding penalty.

Karene Reid had a stand out performance as he recorded six tackles — three of which were solo — and one sack. He also had two tackles for loss and one pass breakup, battling his way into the backfield, correctly reading the offense and making his presence felt. 

While Devin Lloyd didn’t play, he was impressed with Reid’s performance and complimented him in the post game press conference. 

“I’d say Karene Reid, out of the LBs that I was watching, made some plays and came up big,” Lloyd said. 

One specific area the black defense struggled with was penalties. Not only did they suffer a pass interference penalty that took away the interception, but they continually committed interference penalties which moved the chains for the red offense and led to scoring drives.

Black Offense

The black offense never got into a rhythm during the spring game as they finished the day with -1 total yards. Overall they threw for 20 yards but were constantly stuffed and dropped behind the line on the ground, finishing with -21 rushing yards. 

Freshman Peter Costelli took the reins at quarterback for the first half and he showed some promise through the air. He finished the day 3-8 for 23 total yards. He also threw an interception, targeting a receiver who was heavily defended. However, the interception was called back as the red defense committed a penalty. 

“Peter came out and made some nice throws, showed some mobility in the pocket, and essentially played that entire first half,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham.

Oklahoma transfer TJ Pledger was able to get some reps in as well, going for 31 yards on six carries. Pledger showed a lot of speed and agility, finding the gaps nicely and avoiding some tackles on several instances in order to move the chains a bit further.

Overall, the black offense was fairly outmanned, but a lot of potential was illustrated with an abundance of new faces for the program.

Red Defense

The red defense held their ground in the spring game, not conceding a single point to the black offense. Overall, the red defense recorded 28 total tackles, 18 of which were solo. They also had six sacks, 12 tackles for loss and one pass breakup. The red defense was constantly in the backfield, either getting to the young quarterbacks for sacks or stopping the run before it could even begin.

Xavier Carlton had himself a day as he led the red defense with five total tackles, four of which were solo. He also had one sack and four and a half tackles for loss, showing his ability to hunt down ball carriers and effectively drop them in the backfield. 

Not much can be critiqued on the defensive side of the ball for the red team besides the offsides penalty, which cost them an interception.

Red Offense

Brewer showed just why he was recruited to the program from the transfer portal, and how he vastly differs from the previous senior transfer who disappointed a lot of fans last season. Brewer finished a perfect 15-15 for 151 yards and two touchdowns. His passes were always right on target; he illustrated a lot of patience waiting for plays to develop and connected with multiple receivers. Brewer is incredibly talented and will be tough to beat for the starting position come fall.

Devaughn Vele had a breakout performance, being Brewer’s favorite target and recording four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Vele illustrated great hands, pulling in a diving catch for 40 yards and also going up to bring down a pass in the end zone. Vele has technically been with the program for three years, but his stat sheet reads freshman — and his on-field performance reads veteran. 

Chris Curry was arguably the best running back on the team, going for 44 yards on six carries. He was constantly finding the right gaps and mowing defenders over, plowing his way for extra yards on every down. 

While the game was a bit one-sided, it was great for fans to be back in Rice-Eccles, cheering on their Utes and showing them all kinds of love. With the completion of the spring game, players will now have some time off before they return for fall camp and begin preparations for the 2021 season. 


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