Posted on October 22, 2020
The first scrimmage for Utah football is in the books, with Pac-12 football just 16 days away. The Utes have some holes to fill following the departures of many offensive and defensive weapons.
The key for Utah will be consistency, staying healthy, and having guys that can step up at every position. Speaking of players stepping up, let’s take a look at how key position groups figure to shape up this season.
There are three guys in contention to be Utah’s starting quarterback this year. Senior transfer Jake Bentley has shown some promising snaps at the beginning of fall camp. Cameron Rising, a sophomore transfer from Texas, can show Bentley some healthy competition as well.
Utah’s quality depth at QB could allow the Utes to play three quarterbacks early, to see who plays better with this offense. Regardless, it’s good to have a depth chart like this at the most important position in football.
With the departure of Zack Moss to the NFL, junior Devin Brumfield and sophomore Jordan Wilmore will carry the Utes this year on the ground. As with the quarterback position, there will be some healthy competition for the leading rusher spot.
Collectively, these two shouldn’t let the Utah offense down, as both showed promise last season. Brumfield compiled 263 rushing yards on the season, with Wilmore adding 194. To be fair, these aren’t monstrous numbers, but both running backs had to play behind Moss, Utah’s all-time leading rusher.
Junior Britain Covey will look to bounce back this year after a devastating leg injury that kept him out for the entire 2019 season. Covey will also be crucial to special teams, as he’ll be the kickoff and punt returner.
The wide receiving corps is the strength of this Utah team, with Bryan Thompson, Solomon Enis, and Samson Nacua, all coming back. Tight ends Brant Kuithe and Cole Fotheringham also return as starters.
The offensive line is where Utah has it’s core returning starters, with junior Nick Ford leading the way. Ford knows what it takes to protect the quarterback, having started 21 games at left tackle.
Three more starters come back for the Utah offense, including left guard Braden Daniels, right tackle Simi Moala, and center Orlando Umana. The offensive line depth chart figures to be especially important this year in protecting a new quarterback.
With six Utah defenders gone to the NFL, this young defense will be tested. The defensive depth chart is especially young this season, as 10 true freshmen look to lead the Utes. Now that star cornerback Jaylon Johnson has taken his talents to the Chicago Bears, the two-deep at cornerback will need to step up big time this year.
All eyes will be on four-star California recruit Clark Phillips III, who originally committed to Ohio State before flipping to Utah this winter. Two more true freshman cornerbacks, Zemaiah Vaughn and Fabian Marks, join Phillips III in the secondary. The top starting returners on defense are defensive end Mika Tafua and linebacker Devin Lloyd.
The special teams corps kicker Jadon Redding and punter Ben Lennon are back after having an impressive freshmen debut last season. Bryan Thompson is in the second spot on the depth chart as the kickoff returner, and Britain Covey will have a new backup at punt returner with Jaylen Dixon entering the transfer portal.
The depth chart for Utah figures to be a promising—if uncertain—consideration heading into this season. It will be vital for the Utes to have more than one potential starter at each position, with football being such an injury prone sport. We’ve seen plenty of devastating injuries in the NFL this season, and the Utes can only hope that injuries won’t be an issue in this pandemic-shortened season. The depth chart will be loaded with new faces, so that “next man up” mentality will be more important than ever in 2020.
You can read Cefalu’s other sports stories and columns at the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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