The Utah Utes spring scrimmage yesterday left fans with an exuberance of hope for the season. The offense owned the day as Christensen’s impact has become apparent, the running backs continued to impress, and the competition at quarterback finally showed some separation.
The most immediate impression that I took away from yesterday’s scrimmage was tempo – huddles have been completely eliminated and the offense is really responding to the faster paced play calling. While the 2nd and 3rd strings were not as polished, the offense under Wilson looked really quick between each snap (so fast that it was difficult to even jot down quick play by play notes). While Erickson tried to install the same level of tempo last year, Christensen’s impact has taken it to the next level.
While Bubba Poole, Troy McCormick, and Devontae Booker all performed on par with their previous outings, the running back of the day was Marcus Sanders-Williams. Typically lining up next to Brandon Cox, this sophomore took advantage of running against the last string defense and racked up 73 yards and a long touchdown (around 30 yards to complete a drive where Cox did not complete a single pass).
My only disappointment with the running backs was that Troy McCormick really struggled catching the ball out of the backfield. He dropped three passes and was rocked hard by the defense on one of them. Even though Whittingham suggested they might have him line up in the slot, he sure didn’t show capable hands yesterday.
Welcome Back Wilson
Early in the scrimmage quarterback Travis Wilson looked spooked as he was only reading one side of the field before deciding nothing was open and scrambling. But immediately after that he found Dres Anderson over the middle for a 50 yard touchdown pass. That may have given the quarterback some confidence but it would be a couple more possessions before he began returning to a true starter’s form.
Wilson still threw too many passes behind or at the feet of his receivers which lead to incompletions. But there were flashes of brilliance in his throwing game as well. A couple of well-placed passes to tight end Westlee Tonga on a slant route led to very pretty touchdowns. Wilson is starting to gain some touch on his passes that we have not seen from him before. This was aptly apparent after he threw a 37 yard touchdown pass to Anderson deep in the end zone. The lead was perfect and the touch was gorgeous as it glided softly into the Dres’ hands.
It was very clear after a full day of live ball that Wilson is the number one quarterback by far. You can tell that he is used to the pace of Division I football and can make quick decisions accordingly. For every Utah fan out there, let’s hope he is cleared for contact and we see more performances like yesterday (which was reminiscent of the historic Stanford win last year). Welcome back Travis.