On Monday, because I had nothing else to do and I live nearby, I decided to go to the Utah Utes open scrimmage. The scrimmage was postponed from Saturday to Monday due to "inclement weather." (Also the reason I couldn't go to the BYU spring game. Darn that inclement weather.) At first I was on the fence about going, mostly because I couldn't get anyone to come with me, but after asking my tweeps and getting an overall yes, I went. And I'm glad I did. I wasn't able to talk with any players or coaches (does someone want to forge me a media pass?) but I did take notes. So click on to get my impressions.
First I would like to say that I didn't pay much attention to the defensive player's numbers, so I won't have many names. But I did get the offensive players numbers. With that said, on to my impressions.
The special teams was both good and bad. The kickers and punters were the most impressive of the bunch. On kickoff return drills all the kickoffs were within the 5 yard line. Some of them went into the end zone, one for a touch back. Their punting was also formidable. (Don't have numbers but they were pretty dang good punts.) The problems were on kickoff return coverage. Although all kickoffs went at least 65 yards, almost all the returns went over twenty yards. A couple times the return man broke away but the play was whistled dead.
The kickers that most impressed me were Nick Marsh and a guy I thought was #33 but looking at the roster 33 is a DB. So I'll just call him 33. On the first kickoff return Reggie Dunn broke a couple tackles and even had a nice spin move to gain several more yards. Dres Anderson and Ryan Lacy also had impressive returns.
Marsh and the illusive #33 also impressed me with their punting. All their punts had great height and length. There was also a nice blocked punt. Their field goal kicking was also pretty good, only missing one from 49 yards out and hitting one from 50. (Don't know who kicked these though.)
The defense was the most imposing unit on the field, dominating from start to finish. The final play summarized the scrimmage very well. The offense started with the quarterback under center (as it did for most the afternoon) and John White IV got the handoff. He ran straight forward but had a bad grip on the ball and fumbled it. Tevita Finau picked up the fumble and ran the other way till the play was whistled dead.
That's the kind of scrimmage it was. The defense recorded seven sacks, four interceptions- there were multiple times a ball should have been intercepted but wasn't- and the fumble. The defense didn't let run game get anywhere. They clogged up the line so well a mouse couldn't get through. The secondary was covering pretty well also. But it helps that one of the quarterbacks couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
The biggest superstar on defense was the aforementioned Tevita Finau. He had two batted passes at the line to go with his fumble return. Another star of the defense was Terrell Reese, who had an 83 yard interception return just to get tackled a couple yards shy of the end zone. Dave Fagergren, Boo Anderson, and Michael Walker also had interceptions.
All throughout the scrimmage the offense struggled. The running game couldn't go anywhere, QBs were missing receivers, and the offensive line's blocking was horrible. It was hard to find any bright spots on the offense.
With that said the back that most impressed me was Lucky Radley. He didn't get much playing time but he made the most of the snaps he did get. Radley was very quick and could avoid tackles very well. But he was also fairly powerful. I think his success came mostly from sweeping to the outside rather than running up the middle. This emphasized his speed and kept him away from the center where the d-line had it all clogged up. He had a couple big runs to the side.
Another back I was impressed with was Thretton Palamo. Palamo was very powerful and ran between the tackles pretty effectively. During the red zone drills he got a few good blocks (which happened only a couple times) and broke a tackle to power his way into the end zone.
I wasn't impressed with Harvey Langi. I don't get what the hype is about. He mainly ran it down the middle, and you could tell he has power, but barely went anywhere. A few times he gained good yardage but mostly he got stuffed or only picked up one or two yards. I think the problem I had with him was that Langi couldn't keep his legs pumping. If he could keep them under him and moving I could see him as a great RB. But for now I can only see him being used in short yardage situations. What surprised me the most is that he got the most reps of the running backs. I guess the coaches saw something I didn't.
The Ute's passing game also couldn't get much done, and I put most the blame on the quarterbacks. Griff Robles seriously couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He ended 6 of 13 but threw three picks and a couple more that should have been picked off. But he did have a few nice scrambles, including one for a touchdown in red zone drills. Tyler Shreve, who received a majority of the snaps, fared little better. He went 11 of 25 for 107 yards one pick and one touchdown, which also came during red zone drills.
Although I put most the blame for the bad passing game on the QB's, the receivers didn't play well either. They missed some easy catches and a few times they didn't run their rout well. I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the receivers. I'd see a flash of brilliance on one catch then on their next touch they'd drop it.
If I had to name one pass catcher that played well it would be Luke Matthews, even though he's listed as a running back. He did have a dropped pass but his general good play outshined the bad.
Overall I was most impressed by the defensive line and the way they stopped the run and batted passes. The secondary was also sound, covering receivers pretty well. But the Ute's offensive woes would be disconcerting for a Utah fan, although it bodes well for any of their opponents. They're really hurting for Jordan Wynn right now. Norm Chow has his work cut out for him.
I might go to one of the practices this week, and I'll be going to the Red & White game for sure. So I'll do a little scouting report on those also. I'll try to make it shorter though.