Defensive pressure was the story at the first scrimmage of fall camp.
SALT LAKE CITY--
In a red zone drive that began on the 25-yard line, Travis Wilson made it look easy--lofting a touchdown pass to Dres Anderson on first down. Not much else came easily for Utah's offense in the first scrimmage of fall camp, where the defense dominated for most of the nearly two hours of play.
"I was pleased with the way the defense flew around and made tackles," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "But we have a lot of work to do on offense. Our execution was not what it should be and we need to make a lot of improvement between now and the second scrimmage (on Saturday)."
A classic example of the offensive frustration came during the "plus 45" drills, when Wilson drove the No. 1 offense 44 yards to first and goal on the 1-yard line. The drive ended in disaster when a muffed handoff bounced around and was scooped up by safety Tevin Carter, who raced 89 yards the other direction for a touchdown.
Wilson finished 8-of-21 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns while sharing the first-string reps with Kendal Thompson. Thompson, who completed 3-of-8 passes for 63 yards, directed a touchdown drive during the red zone drills (which started at the 25-yard) when he dashed 24 yards on a keeper to get the offense to the 1-yard line. On the next play, he handed off to Devontae Booker for a score. Later, Thompson scored on a 15-yard run during the two-minute drills.
Running backs Bubba Poole (9 carries, 30 yards) and Troy McCormick (9 carries, 40 yards) got most of the handoffs with the No. 1 offense and Poole also had a 34-yard reception. New JC transfer Tim Patrick led the receivers with six catches for 81 yards.
While the defense didn't come away with any interceptions, seven different players batted down passes, including a breakup by Justin Thomas that averted what surely would have been a long touchdown pass from Wilson to Dominique Hatfield.
Much of the offensive struggles could be traced to the heavy pressure applied by the defense. Greg Reese, Pita Taumoepenu, Hunter Dimick and Jason Fanaika all had sacks and Marcus Williams recorded two tackles for loss. Brian Allen also had a TFL in his first scrimmage as a defender (Allen was moved from wide receiver to defensive back in the summer).
The day wrapped up with scrimmaging between the No. 3 offense and defense.