Skip to main content

Camp Kyle 2020: Media Monday

Oct 19, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY - Week two of 2020 fall camp for the University of Utah football program began today as the Utes headed into their ninth day of preseason training.
 

U Voices: Kyle Whittingham, Colton Swan, Mika Tafua, Nephi Sewell, JaTravis Broughton

Kyle Whittingham | Head Coach

On if he plans to name a lead running back or if it will be a group of backs that share carries this year…
"We will just have to see which way it goes. Ideally if you have a lead back, it is a little better situation, but it doesn't have to be that way. As long as you are getting the production in the run game that you need, whether that is by one guy primarily or by two or three guys contributing, I don't think that's really a big concern. So, we will just continue to get them all reps and see if there is any separation and then go from there."
 

On Mika Tafua and the leadership he brings…
"He is an NFL guy in my opinion. He is just a junior, but he has what it takes to play at the next level. I think playing next to those guys last year he was the guy that didn't get double-teamed much because of the other guys, so he had a chance to face single-blocking most of the season. He is a great leader for us. He was voted captain, so that is what his peers think of him and how much respect he has from them. He has been a tremendous player since he got here. He came midseason three of four years ago coming off his church mission and he has been a very good player for us. Right now he is the leader of that defensive line."

On how many offensive linemen he feels are game ready…
"We have 10 and we feel good about these 10 that are getting all the reps. We are still not settled on the exact configuration as far as who is going to play in exactly which spots because we have some versatility upfront with those guys. We have a pretty good idea of what we are going to do, but nothing is set in stone quite yet. We will get through this week of practice and then probably start to solidify that with the first five working together and the second five working with each other. Right now there is no clear cut first five, but we feel we have 10 guys that are capable of playing at the Pac-12 level and contributing for us."

On when choosing the quarterback if he puts more weight on scrimmages or daily practices…
"Well the live work always carries more weight with everybody, that is just how it is. When you are looking at live work, you get a better picture of exactly where you are, but everything matters. I'm not trying to discount the regular day-to-day practice situations that aren't live because they factor in as well. But it is weighted more heavily with live work than, and again, that goes for every position."

Colton Swan | Linebackers Coach

On getting the linebacker spot opposite Devin Lloyd filled…
"There is really good competition among the guys, and they are fighting for it. There are definitely some eyebrows being raised as far as the guys competing and fighting for it, so yeah, things are looking great."

On how he feels Nephi Sewell has performed…
"Nephi is a really savvy football player. He hasn't played a ton at the linebacker position. There are some nuances at that position that you have to get familiar with, as far as your eye progression goes. He is starting to see the blocking schemes in front of him and fitting correctly and he is making great strides. I'm really happy with where he is at. It is still a competition among him and the rest of the guys, but we are really satisfied with how he is handling what has been put on his plate."

On how many linebackers the Utes have that he feels are Pac-12 game ready…
"There are some younger guys that are coming along, so there are six guys that are really playing extremely well. They are understanding the defense and making plays during live periods and in the scrimmage. Establishing the depth is critical. We keep coaching them hard every day and we keep meeting with them to ensure that from top to bottom, these guys are ready to step in at any time. Depth is crucial and the guys are doing great with it."

On Devin Lloyd's leadership…
"He does an extraordinary job. All of the players on the team trust and respect him, and he has the results to back it up. He has done a great job in a leadership role as far as bringing guys along. Nobody works harder than Devin. He spends an extraordinary among of time working on the field and off the field. You can find him in the meeting room 24/7, or out on the field perfecting his craft. He is a great leader. We were really happy to have him in our room. He is a great voice for us as coaches, and we expect great things from him this season."

Mika Tafua | JR | Defensive End

On his role as the only returning defensive line starter…
"I think the most important thing is that everybody gets the culture here, especially with the defensive line, just helping them understand what is expected of them and helping them get the confidence to be able to do what is asked. Just helping the younger guys to step up, especially this year."

On what he has focused on improving in his game…
"I've been trying to work on all aspects of my game. I'd say one spot that I've tried to focus on a lot is on my pass rush. I feel like last year I definitely could have done a better job at getting more pressure on the quarterback, so that is something I've worked on."

On getting to play with three linemen who made it to the NFL last year and his leadership role alongside Devin Lloyd…
"It was definitely fun playing alongside all three of them, especially this year getting to watching all of them do what they are doing, not only those three, but the rest of the guys in the NFL like Julian, Jaylon and Francis. It has been cool to see how their work ethic in college carried over to what they are doing now in the league. As for Devin and I, it has been a lot harder for us because there are a lot of young guys, but I feel that we've done a pretty good job at recruiting people who want to get better. All the young guys want to get better, so we are just trying to set an example and show them what the culture here on defense at Utah is."

On the culture that has been a tradition among the Utah defense and Utah defensive line…
"Coach Scalley does a great job at making sure that it is within all of us. I think with the type of people that we have here at Utah, it is kind of already built into us that we all want to be like that. It's not really taught, we are just trying to get it out of everyone."

Nephi Sewell | JR | Linebacker

On transitioning from the secondary to linebacker and the adjustments he has had to make…
"I think one of the biggest challenges has been learning how to take on offensive linemen. Obviously, the weight I have put on has been helping. Our leader in the room, Devin Lloyd, has been helping me and giving me pointers on how to improve in that aspect of the game. So that has probably been the biggest change from moving from the secondary."

On how comfortable he feels taking live snaps at linebacker…
"I feel very comfortable compared to where we were before the shutdown back in what would have been spring ball. Devin and the other experienced linebackers in the group have been there to help me, so I feel confident going in, especially with three weeks left. Just living and learning as each day goes by, feeling more confident as we get closer to game week."

On if he likes playing in the secondary better or at linebacker…
"I like both. There are things with my style of play that fit at both linebacker or at safety, so I'm not complaining. I like both positions."

On transferring to Utah last season and then having to wait till the end of the season to be cleared to play…
"Last year was definitely a weird year for me, going from being a development guy straight to being cleared, so it was definitely a big change. Going throughout the year missing live reps, then getting to the end of the year to start playing with an adjustment. From last year to this year, I would say I'm more prepared now. My body physically taking these reps throughout camp definitely makes me feel prepared for the season. My body feels better going into this season than it did last year."

JaTravis Broughton | SO | Cornerback

On establishing chemistry with all the new players in the secondary…
"Because it was a lot of new faces, it took a minute, but we started to being able to hang out a lot more and more, and building a bond little by little. With our safeties they are young as well, but they are coming along, so we are all coming along as a whole."

On getting to follow in the footsteps of players like Jaylon Johnson…
"Being able to watch Jaylon, Julian Blackmon and all of the good players that have come before me, I was able to take from their technique and take from what they were able to tell me and use that with my own technique. It took a long time for me to come together, but I am ready to go now."

On being in the program with coaches like Morgan Scalley and Sharrieff Shah and how that can help even though he didn't get many reps last year…
"With the coaches it is a lot of mental reps as well. You can't just be on the sideline doing your own thing, you have to be tuned in. With me being a second guy last year, I always had to know everything and I couldn't lack because they could have thrown me in there at any time. All of the starters from last year helped me every day and I was able to see how they operate and how they became that dog, and then I was able to do it myself."

On his confidence in the secondary…
"We still have a long way to go, but we build every day. My confidence in my team is very high. I see the potential that we have, we just have to do the little things better and when that comes along, we will be great."