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Camp Kyle 2020: Back On The Field

Oct 9, 2020

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SALT LAKE CITY – It was a beautiful day in Salt Lake City as the University of Utah football program officially kicked off the 2020 football season with the first practice of fall camp.

The atmosphere at practice was full of excitement as newcomers hit the field eager to prove themselves and veterans took leadership of their new team and looked ready to get the year underway.
 

The day began with head coach Kyle Whittingham, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley meeting with the media virtually to talk camp, who to watch this year and where they see their team going.

The Utes took to the gridiron in the afternoon, wearing jerseys, shorts and helmets with pads coming later in the camp.
 


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U Voices: Quotes From The Utes

Kyle Whittingham | Head Coach

On replacing five starters in the secondary…
"We see good potential in the group we have, but everyone knows that has to come to fruition on the game field. It will be one of our primary tasks this fall camp, is to identify who those five guys are going to be as early as we can so that they can start working together as a unit. It is much like offensive line, they have to work together and get a feel for each other. We feel like we have a lot of good candidates. They are all inexperienced and mostly freshmen and sophomores, but they've got to be ready and we've got to get them ready."

On getting picked to finish third in the Pac-12 preseason poll and if that gives the team a different attitude heading into camp…
"We just tune it out. When you look at the players we lost and who we have to replace, I don't blame them for picking us where they did. It will all depend on how these new guys who are getting opportunities handle it. That is the bottom line. Guys need to step up, and that is the nature of college football, you lose guys every year. You have to be able to reload and respond and that is what our objective is right now, to get everybody into position where they should be and playing at the level they need to be playing at. We will see what happens."

On Andy Ludwig's ability to play up the strengths of his personnel and how different the offense will look this season…
"Andy does a great job maximizing each of the players' strengths and what they do best. We talk about it all the time around here that it isn't about the players, it is about the players. We don't necessarily start with schemes, we start with like 'OK what does this guy do best, what are their strengths,' and then tailor the offense to those various skill sets. Then it is about getting the right guys the ball and space. Whoever your No. 1 running back is, emphasizing what he is best at or is most comfortable with, so that is going to be an opportunity for Andy to do just that again this year. We leaned on Zack Moss who had a heavy dose of run the last few years, and that might change this year. We may throw the ball more, which is fine. There is more than one way to get things done. Last year even though our pass offense wasn't very prolific in yards per game, it was very efficient and effective. I have no question and no doubt that Andy will get the most out of the ability of our players and what is available to him."

On how deep the new defensive line is heading into camp…
"It could be a strong group for us. We lost some really good players up front, but traditionally we are able to just reload it. Viane Moala we think is going to be one of the best defensive tackles in the Pac-12 and in the country. Hauati Pututau is in there with him and Pita Tonga. We have some really good freshmen that just came in like Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton along with Tanoa Togiai and then of course we have Mika Tafua returning with Maxs Tupai. Both of those guys have extensive experience. We feel like year-in and year-out our defensive front is going to continue to be a strength of ours. It has been for many years. We very seldom have a year where our defensive front isn't dominating and we expect that to happen this year."

Andy Ludwig | Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

What are the challenges with replacing a player like Zack Moss…
"It is a great challenge and a great opportunity for everyone involved in the program. Zack had such a racer mentality where he could take a bad play call and turn it into an explosive play. Obviously, we will need to be much more refined all the way across the board in designing and implementing run-game schemes, the way we are coaching the running backs, the way that we are calling the plays, but ultimately it is going to be a great battle for that starting tailback position and for the tailback rotation. Devin Brumfield, Jordan Wilmore, Micah Bernard, Ty Jordan, TJ Green – it is a good group in the backfield, competing to be Zack's replacement. But we are all going to have to step up to accommodate the loss of the all-time leading rusher in Utah football history."

How deep the offensive line is this year…
"It has the potential for very, very good depth. Losing just one starter and players coming back with so much experience whether that is starting experience or playing experience, that group has the potential to be really good. Like when talking about replacing the running back, the improvement and the depth at the offensive line is going to be just as big of a part of that process as anything that we have going. I feel good about the depth, I feel really good about the talent and I think that will be a real strength for the Utah offense for this upcoming season."

On Jake Bentley…
"He has done a really nice job. He is a football junkie. Even in the short opportunity we had in March with the three practices, he showed a quick take to what we do offensively. He is a guy that has made the absolute most during this unique time in history with the pandemic and has taken advantage of every opportunity that comes to him to not only learn the offense but learn his teammates and develop chemistry with those guys. The other thing with Jake is he is moving so much better now in October than he was in March coming off that injury from his previous season at South Carolina, so we are excited about the progress he has made physically, as well as mentally as he adapts to the Utah football offense."

On where a healthy Britain Covey could fit in to the offense…
"I would compare Britain Covey to a guerilla warfare type player. I'm not saying he is an X receiver, or R receiver of a slot receiver – he is everything. He is going to line up as a running back, line up in the slot, line up on the perimeter, and he is going to move. I've talked with him about that and have told him, he isn't a letter. He is everything and needs to be ready to adapt and adjust week-in and week-out as we work to implement plays and schemes that highlight his skills and abilities. He is a fun player to work with."

Morgan Scalley | Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

On the challenges of replacing nine starters on defense…
"It seems like every year you are having to replace someone, it just so happens that this year it is a little bit more. Guys will step up. It is our job as coaches to recruit, develop and put them in the best situation possible. We have guys, now it is just a matter of making sure that once the pads come on that we are hitting properly and tackling properly. We are excited about this young group and with the guys that we have coming back."

On being able to consistently reload on the defensive line…
"The biggest thing we lost with the three that went to the NFL is leadership. All three of those guys made plays for us and there is a reason all three are playing in the league right now – they are very good football players. We feel like we have a solid group both of young athletes coming into our program as well as returners. You look at both Mika Tafua and Maxs Tupai, you look at Viane Moala and Hauati Pututau, guys that have gained significant reps or made plays for us, so we feel like we have a very solid group. It is probably the most experienced on the defense right now and the leadership is coming through. We are excited for this group, it is their time."

On Devin Lloyd…
"His playmaking ability is obvious. I think he was either one or two in terms of our production board last year. The biggest thing that he brings to the table is that leadership. He learned from Chase Hansen, Cody Barton and Francis Bernard. He is the type of player that understands how to work, how to grind, and how to get others to come along. He is a big-time leader for us. We are excited for another great year from him."

On moving Nephi Sewell from safety to linebacker and the overall depth at linebacker…
"The overall depth at linebacker continues to be a work in progress. I can say that Nephi is as football savvy as they come. He is a very smart football player and he understands his weaknesses. He knows that he doesn't have the length that Devin has and his style of play is different in that sense. He is much more compact and explosive. He is able to fit through gaps and we are able to blitz him in ways that are effective for him. We are excited about this transition for Nephi. Colton Swan is as good as they come in terms of developing talent and getting guys ready to play. Andrew Mata'afa has also done a great job of putting on some weight and sustaining that weight, and he is playing goof football. Everyone looks good in helmets and jerseys, so we are excited for the pads to come on because that is when you find out who people really are. Sione Fotu and Jeremy Mercier are two guys that have also kind of stood out in terms of filling that depth as well as Moroni Anae and Hayden Furey. They are both walk-on football players that have shown us that they can play meaningful reps and we are excited for their development."