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Camp Kyle 2020: The Pads Were Popping

Oct 14, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY – The pads were popping on Wednesday at the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center as the Utah football team wore full gear for the first time of fall camp, wrapping up an electric fifth practice.

The Utes put in several sessions of live work today as the physicality continued to increase with each rep. The explosiveness coming through at each position brought an excitement to everyone on the field as the program edges forward toward the 2020 season.

Highlights from WR vs. DB

  • Faybian Marks continues to show tight coverage while showing off his speed.
  • Samson Nacua had a leaping 20+yard touchdown reception, showing his strength to go up and get the ball.
  • Dominique Thompson had a juke on a catch over the middle that created immediate space for a sizeable gain.
  • Malone Mataele had a knockdown in the end zone.
  • Bryan Thompson showed a burst of speed to separate from his DB for a 10-yard catch.

Highlights from 9 vs. 9

  • Nacua scored on a 20+ yard reception in double coverage.
  • Nate Ritchie had a knockdown in the end zone.
  • Thomas Yassmin linked up for a 20-yard TD under tight coverage.

Highlights from Full Offense vs. Defense

  • Brant Kuithe had a 35-yard touchdown catch.
  • Devin Lloyd laid down a monstrous hit on the running back at the line of scrimmage of no gain.
  • Britain Covey was found over the middle, splitting the defense for a 20-yard touchdown.
  • Covey was explosive out of the backfield with several large gains.
  • Kamo'i Latu had a strong pass breakup in the end zone.
  • Ty Jordan threw out the Heisman arm to push through for a 20-yard touchdown run.

U Voices: Quotes From Media Availability Wednesday Morning

Kyle Whittingham | Head Coach

On the first four days of camp…
"We had a very physical last two days of practice, which was great to see. We hadn't had pads on or hit anybody for months, so it was refreshing to almost play football again. We feel like we have had a great start to camp, four days in, and the first time to put full gear on will be today. So far, lots of good things from a lot of young players, which we needed to find that out quickly. A lot of them are going to help us out this year, so once we identify who those guys are, we can start sinking some reps into them. We have to make quick decisions this camp, so we need to start getting the guys that are going to be in the two-deep the vast majority of the reps."

On Devin Lloyd becoming a vocal leader…
"He has done a great job so far. He has been a captain since January. He took on that role and has really lived up to it and to what the expectations are. He had a heck of a year last year, led the team in tackles, and he is a bigger and better version of himself this year. I expect a big year from him production wise and leadership wise."

On the development in the secondary the first four days of camp…
"We had a very good start with the evaluations there. A few of the corners that have stood out include JaTravis Broughton, who is probably our No. 1 corner right now, Malone Mataele has had a good first four days as has Clark Phillips III. Faybian Marks is doing a nice job. Bronson Boyd hasn't been out there full-time because he is a little nicked up, but when he is out there he is performing at a high level as well. In the safety position, the two starters at this point in time are Vonte Davis and R.J. Hubert, but they are being pushed by Nate Ritchie and Kamo'i Latu, our two freshmen. Zemaiah Vaughn is also doing a nice job as well."

On R.J. Hubert being healthy and able to play…
"The secondary has a lot of freshmen and a couple of sophomores, and he is one of the few upperclassmen, so to have him back on the field and healthy is a big plus for us. Like I said, nothing is set in stone. We have some talented young guys that are challenging them, but to have him out there is a stabilizing factor for us. He is a guy that has been in the system, knows how to get guys lined up and makes very few assignment errors. That's good for our defense, and Coach Scalley when this is all said and done will have the right guys out there. I have no doubt in that."

Sharrieff Shah | Cornerbacks/Special Teams Coordinator

On getting the young secondary ready in a shortened season…
"It is difficult. We have a defense that is predicated on understanding very quickly what you have to do in a myriad of situations. So, having these young guys understand what we would like them to do in various situations is difficult because we continue to implement our defense and we won't stop slowing down the pace with which we are introducing them to various concepts. They have to be able to decipher, then apply, and then execute at a very high level. So, it is tough on them, but this is just part of the process."

On Clark Phillips III playing both nickel back and cornerback in practice currently…
"The goal is to teach him both positions. We don't have the luxury to just have him learn the inside, we want to be able to teach most of the players in my room the nuances of nickel and outside corner. It is very difficult to understand to play the inside, but what I envision, and hopefully he begins to understand it at a rate that gives us comfort and confidence in him, is that he will be able to understand both the inside as well as him already being able to understand the outside. So we would like him to continue to develop in both positions."

On his expectations on special teams this year…
"The expectation is always to sit in the No. 1 spot. As a unit, we've been in one of the top spots in the conference since we've joined the Pac-12. So, the expectation is to have great special teams play. Coach Whittingham has put his stamp on it and it is something we continue to do. Every coordinator before me has sat in that position with the same expectation. I think we will have a very dynamic punt return team having Britain Covey back. I love that he is feeling a lot better and he is looking a lot more explosive. Our kickoff return team is a team we continue to implement a system that we created that allows our offense to get the ball in certain locations to shorten the field, so that unit is continuing to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Kickoff has been outstanding led by Colton Swan and he is doing a magnificent job. We were No. 1 in the conference. Then punt team is where we want to make good strides. We have been unbelievably good in punt team, but last year wasn't as good as we wanted it to be, so we have to be better at our protections, we want to be more effective in certain locations of the field, and get opponents pinned in the rate and fashion that we are accustomed to."

On JaTravis Broughton…
"Another young kid that was a 20.00 200-meter runner from Oklahoma. I love the way that he is starting to own his leadership role as a young player. He is doing things that I anticipated would happen, and it is happening at the time that we need it to happen. We are starting to see him being able to close on the deep ball. I want JT, and I need him to, improve on his ball skills and ball tracking ability. He will put himself with his God given attributes and ability in the position to make plays, but the thing we have been good at is coming down with those turnovers. I want him to be able to get to intercept the ball, not just get pass breakups. So, him covering the more vertical routes has really been refreshing to watch happen, and getting to use his hands and length at the line of scrimmage has been good. Then just having him understand where he should be and where he should fit in certain zone schemes when we are working various coverages has been good. I love JT and I love the way he is working through camp right now – I just want it to be consistent."

R.J. Hubert | JR | Safety

On what the rehab process was like coming back from his injury…
"It was difficult. It was a pretty severe knee injury, so there were a couple of different elements of the surgery that was done. For me the frustrating thing was being on crutches for so long. I'll never take for granted the ability to walk, to run, to jump – the things I've been doing since I was a little kid. I am really grateful for where I am now."

On the challenges of replacing the secondary this year and being one of the veterans…
"Replacing Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon is going to be difficult. They are great guys, so filling their shoes will be quite a task, but I feel like we have the tools to make an impact this year. I talk to Terrell and he gives me advice and he says to just buy in, lock in, write down my goals, and look at them often so that I reminded often what I am shooting for."

On if he has taken on a leadership goal with a young secondary…
"Definitely. I feel like it is my responsibility as someone who has gotten starts in the secondary before. It is my responsibility to take those guys under my wing and help them out. Game experience is something that is unique and they will all get the chance soon, but I feel like the things that I can teach them in film, as we go through walk-throughs, or even just giving feedback and advice, is something that I can help out with right now. I want to help make them better and lift our defense as high as we can."

On Vonte Davis…
"Vonte is my guy. We took all of the second string reps last season behind Julian and Terrell, so we actually have quite a bit of experience playing the two safety positions together. I feel like we have pretty good chemistry, and then on top of that, we spend time together off the field, so that helps more. Vonte has good technique, especially when we are tackling. He also has ball skills, so I think he has a bright future ahead and I am excited to see what we can do together."

Devin Lloyd | JR | Linebacker

On coming into this season as a returning starter…
"Since I've come into the program I've tried to lead by example, but now that the older guys have left I've definitely had to step up as more of a vocal leader as well. It is something I take pride in and I try to do my best at leading vocally and by example."

On getting to learn from some great linebackers the last few years…
"It is hard to point out one specific guy because there have been so many that have helped me in so many ways. Cody Barton when I first came here, he was a guy that stuck his hand out for me and showed me how to do things the right way – the way we do things at Utah. Then Francis Bernard helped me so much last year, helping me improve my game. Also Chase, Donovan, Sunia, all of those guys have helped me so much. I just want to thank them because they have done a lot for me."

On the process of finding another linebacker to start beside him…
"I think the three linebackers that are up for that position in Andrew, Nephi and Hayden have all done a great job at just competing and trying to improve. It is a close battle. It is similar to the QB battle where we have three different guys with three different playing styles that are all effective. Everyone is doing a great job so far."

On feeling like they are getting back to a feeling of normalcy…
"We had our first day of pads on Monday and it was just good to get back in the pads, getting the physicality going. That element is why we play football and that is what we have been missing for the last seven months."

Vonte Davis | SR | Safety

On the young secondary and what example he is trying to set as a veteran…
"I've been a safety here for almost three years and I've been getting to work with safeties like Corrion Ballard, Marquise Blair, Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess, so I'm just trying to show them the ropes just like they showed me in the past. It is about running to the ball quick, and just do everything right. Coach Scalley teaches us to do everything right, so I am trying to teach them that too."

On the challenges of the secondary rebuilding itself…
"Just coming from last year, we had a lot of great DBs, so for the new guys coming in, they have some big shoes to fill. They have to come in and act like they have been here before. There can't be any 'oh I'm just a freshman', they have to come out here and show what they've got and also memorize the plays and stuff like that."

On if he feels him and R.J. Hubert can fill those big shoes left at the safety positions…
"Yes I feel like we can handle it. Coach Scalley put us up there for a reason, so if he didn't believe in us, then we wouldn't even be here."

On R.J. Hubert…
"He looks like the same R.J. from last year. He doesn't look like he has had an injury or anything. He has been out there practicing the same as I have and he has been showing up."