Get better each day, settle your open position battles, and come out healthy. Those are generally the goals of a college football program in fall camp and Utah was able to accomplish all three in their 2015 edition that showed a team deep enough and talented enough to compete for the Pac 12 South crown.
Quarterback? Check. Running back? Check. Offensive line? Check. Outside of finding a healthy true number 1 receiver, Utah's was able to make significant strides and/or shore up pretty much every single area on the offensive side of the ball in fall camp, highlighted by Travis Wilson's impressive final week and a half where he put a stranglehold on the quarterback job.
Wilson's late camp emergence and separation is a good sign as he finally started clicking with his receivers, many of them new, while the return of Kenneth Scott midway through camp gave him his favorite target back. Are there still concerns? Absolutely, as no one is going to be completely comfortable until Wilson shows that he can be consistent from game to game in Pac 12 play, but the late camp success is an encouraging sign that the light may finally be coming on for the senior quarterback.
Utah's running game looks like it could be even more deadly than last season as Devontae Booker (somehow) looks even better than in 2014, and in better shape. He's improved his elusiveness while not losing any of the power that made him arguably the best back in the conference last year. Throw in the addition of JC transfer Joe Williams, who had a good camp, and the Utes, while still thin at the position, should be in great shape if they can stay healthy.
Depth at wide receiver? What's that? While still lacking the game-changing wide receiver, Utah has loads of depth at wide receiver for the first time since joining the Pac 12. Kenneth Scott battled through some injuries in camp, but was still highly effective in his limited number of reps. He'll need to stay healthy though for the passing game to operate at an optimum level. The emergence of true freshmen Britain Covey, Caleb Repp, and Siaosi Wilson gives Utah three receivers with different skill-sets that will all see the field in 2015. Covey is particularly intriguing as no one was able to get a real clean shot on him as his elusiveness and strong hands made for some of camp's more exciting plays. Positive steps by guys like Delshawn McClellon, Kenric Young, and newcomer Kyle Fulks (along with RB turned WR Bubba Poole), make this easily Utah's top overall wide receiver group in years.
The offensive line had one position battle coming in, and while there was some shuffling, Sam Tevi locked down the starting left tackle spot with J.J. Dielman sliding back to his 2014 position at right tackle. Is was never much of a battle between Tevi and Jackson Barton with Tevi showing a physicality and athleticism that made him the clear choice for the job. There are some concerns about playable depth, but with versatile guys like Siaosi Aiono and Isaac Asiata on the line that can move around to different spots, and some true freshman that look more capable of contributing than expected (I'm looking at you Darrin Paulo), things should be fine assuming the injury bug doesn't turn into an infestation.
Defensively? No concerns, and there never really any to begin with outside of the cornerback spot opposite Reggie Porter. The duo of Cory Butler and Brian Allen look to be more than capable with Butler showing the promise of a future star and Justin Thomas has the look of possibly the best nickel back in the conference. Tevin Carter is completely healthy and back at his playing weight, which gives the Utes arguably the most athletic safety in the conference. Marcus Williams ability to fight off Jason Thompson for the other starting safety spot was impressive as both performed well, but Williams added weight and football IQ makes a huge difference on the field and will help the Utes limit the deep ball success of opposing teams.
The defensive was all that we expected it to be. Filipo Mokofisi and Lowell Lotulelei just keep getting better and Lotulelei is ready for a breakout year inside. They're a perfect compliment with Lowell's nasty attitude and ability to take on double teams with success on a regular basis, while Mokofisi's strength for an undersized DT is a huge asset. On the ends, Jason Fanaika held down his spot and will take over for Nate Orchard, but the duo of Pita Taumoepenu and a good camp out of Kylie Fitts gives the Utes plenty of options off of the edge to help all all american candidate Hunter Dimick. The sacks numbers may not match last year's, but the overall production should, if not exceed it.
Three senior starting linebackers? They're good. You can only rave about Paul, Norris, and Whittingham so much. We know what they are, and nothing in fall camp gives us any concerns. The Utes even found a bit of depth at the position in the fall and should be fine if/when an injury does occur, especially with the amount of nickel they play.
Overall, this has to be regarded as a highly successful fall camp for Utah with Wilson's late improvement and the lack of injuries (none of which appeared to be serious) the two main accomplishments. This team looks ready to hit the ground running at full speed come September 3rd and show that they are an elite program with a big test in the Michigan Harbaughs and the entire nation tuning in.
Utes Conclude Highly Successful Camp
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