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2022 Spring Football: Penultimate Week Winds Down

Apr 14, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah football team hit the gridiron again on Thursday afternoon, returning outside after Tuesday's practice was shifted inside due to weather. The Utes will hold an intrasquad scrimmage this coming Saturday, before beginning the final week of Spring practice.
   
It'll all culminate with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 23 with kickoff at noon MT inside Rice-Eccles Stadium. Tickets are available at www.UtahTickets.com. Fans can purchase two tickets for $22 in the chair seats or four tickets for $22 in the bleachers, with all proceeds going to the Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe Memorial Scholarships.

 
As this week progressed it was time to take a look at two more position groups within the Utes. Wide receivers coach Chad Bumphis and defensive ends coach Lewis Powell each met with the local media this week to offer assessments of their units.
 
Wide Receivers Coach Chad Bumphis
On the group and depth of the position coming out of last Saturday's scrimmage…
"Yeah, some guys stepped up and made some plays. Early on we were just inconsistent and you need to be the same person every day. You can't only show up on scrimmage days, you have to do it throughout the week. If you don't do it in practice, I'll never know during a game because you won't get the opportunity. So, it needs to be a consistent deal and we have to feel comfortable that you can go out there and execute every play and they did that on Saturday."
 
On where Jaylen Dixon is now with his development…
"The biggest thing with J.D., again like most of them, is just consistency. We talk about it all the time and between him and Money Parks, some of the best things they bring to football is speed. You have to be fast on every play. Whether you are getting the ball as a primary receiver or drawing the attention away from the primary route, we've got to be fast and consistent. Another thing that's helped him is being assignment sound. There was a time where I need to look at the sheet, see what the play's called and then send him in. Now, he's getting a full understanding of the whole offense and we don't need to worry about that. We just send him in and let him play."
 
On what's been the difference for Devaughn Vele this spring…
"Confidence, he's very confident, he's seen himself make some plays and he's comfortable. I'm not moving him around as much because it's so easy for guys like him, he knows all three receiver spots… put him at X and let him get comfortable. He's seen himself make some plays and it's been more consistent. He can be that player for us and he's special. He's a 6'5" guy with crazy athleticism, a catch radius that's unbelievable and he can do what we need him to do and it changes the offense."
 
On where this position group needs to grow to move forward…
"It all comes back to consistency. There was a stretch in the season where I thought Vele was one of the best receivers in the Pac-12. Then he gets an injury here, an injury there and things slow down. But if we're that same group every single day, we have everything we need in that room. There are some real playmakers in there and it showed on Saturday, but it needs to show on Tuesday and Thursday. Not only when the lights are as bright as they are going to be, every day when we are working we need them to be at their best."
 
On how the focus on the outside of the offense is coming along…
"I think it's good. As a wide receiver, this is the perfect offense because you know what you are going to get. You are going to get man-to-man in your face every rep. To me as a wide receiver, that is the most disrespectful thing you can do to me… and we need to have that mentality that it's disrespectful and once we get that and we absolutely hate to lose, we will be the group we can be." 
 
Defensive Ends Coach Lewis Powell
Overall assessment of the defensive ends…
"We have a good, young group. Practices have been really competitive…Van Fillinger, Jonah Elliss and the addition of Connor O'Toole [have] been awesome. Between them, Tyler Wegis and Jonny Fanaika, we have a really good, athletic group. I think it's the most athletic group I've ever been around."
 
On how much teaching is involved, given it's a fairly young group…
"The good thing is we've got some guys that have some experience with Van Fillinger and Miki Suguturaga. They were in the program when we had guys like Bradlee Anae and Mika Tafua in the program. They've picked it up as leaders, and doing what those guys did when they were here. They are doing an awesome job and I'm excited for the group."
 
On using Spring to learn how to play "bigger"…
"[O'Toole and Elliss] gained about 15-20 pounds. Connor came in and he's almost 240 pounds. Jonah's been consistently 240, closer to 245. They're carrying the weight very well, and have the frame to continue to gain weight. We want them to be as heavy as possible without losing any explosive twitch and athleticism. They're going to continue to get better."
 
On the abilities and versatility of this group and others…
"We've never had so many twitchy dudes on the defensive line. I can't wait to see our third-and-long group. We've also got Mohamoud Diabate who's a big-time pass rusher. Lander Barton is a big-time pass rusher. I think we have a really good situation. We'll see how it goes come Fall, but right now the competition is really good."
 
On Van Fillinger…
"As a pass rusher, Van has made huge strides in Spring. Coming into Spring, he knew exactly what he needed to do to get better and take that next step. That's what's he's been doing. It's been awesome to see him develop and grow and work on his skillset. He's been doing a great job. In our scrimmage last week, I think he had three or four sacks. It was pretty impressive to see."