SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah football held their annual red-black spring game on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium and there was a lot of takeaways from it.
It was the first time that the public was able to see the new Utah football team and the additions on the roster that have been hyped up during the spring as the red team picked up a 21-0 win.
Here are six takeaways from the Utah football spring game.
#1 Charlie Brewer Is As Good As Advertised
Throughout spring football in March and April, head coach Kyle Whittingham has hyped up Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer. It’s not very often that Whittingham hypes up a quarterback. It’s very common for him to give praise during spring or fall camp to a defender or a running back but not very often has he hyped up a quarterback. After watching Brewer in the spring game, he is as good as advertised, completing all 15 of his pass attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game.
We all thought the quarterback battle with Cam Rising and Jake Bentley was going to be interesting, Brewer being in that battle takes it to a completely different level.
#2 Running Back Position Will Have Strong Competition In Fall
Utah has three running backs to keep an eye on heading into the 2021 season. Micah Bernard did not play in the spring game but he is the lone returning scholarship running back from last season. They also picked up two transfers in Oklahoma RB T.J. Pledger and LSU’s Chris Curry. Plus, the program will get 2021 signee Ricky Parks enrolled during the summer.
Pledger had six carries for 31 yards for the black team in the spring game. He made some impressive cuts on his runs up the middle. Curry finished with six rush attempts for 44 yards for the red team. Bernard has impressed the coaches throughout spring ball and is currently the No. 1 running back going into fall camp but Pledger and Curry are right on his heels. Parks has the potential to be a really good running back as well.
It looks like a similar running back back for the Utes in fall camp, similar to 2020 when they had Jordan Wilmore, Devin Brumfield, Ty Jordan and Micah Bernard battling for the starting spot.
#3 Defensive Line Depth Is Deeper Than We Thought
I don’t think any of us thought the defensive line depth could be any deeper because it is already really deep. Watching the spring game proved that it’s even deeper. Mika Tafua and Viane Moala did not play in the game, Maxs Tupai didn’t play a ton, which left opportunity for guys lower on the depth chart to step up and showcase their talent.
Returning freshmen Xavier Carlton and Van Fillinger performed well as Carlton tallied five tackles, one sack and 4.5 tackles for loss. Fillinger recorded two tackles and 0.5 tackles. Tyler Wegis had a sack for the black team as did Utah State transfer Elijah Shelton. For the red team, return missionaries Jonny Fanaika and Simote Pepa had great debuts. Fanaika posted three tackles and a sack, while Pepa recorded half of a sack. That doesn’t even include Devin Kaufusi, who has shot up the depth chart at defensive tackle.
The Utes have some serious talent on the defensive line and it’s scary what the potential of this group can accomplish.
#4 Ja’Quinden Jackson Will Have A Role In Utah’s Offense
It was the first chance the public was able to watch Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson. He is a very good runner and even tested his arm power right away as he threw a deep ball on his first pass attempt in the spring game. Jackson went 3-of-8 passing for 28 yards, while running the ball nine times for 45 yards. His potential that he showed on the field made fans excited.
It would not surprise me if offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig implements a package in the offense that uses Jackson’s speed and athleticism. Kyle Whittingham didn’t rule out that possibility as well.
#5 Devaughn Vele Has Potential To Fill Void Left By Two WR Transfers
With Bryan Thompson (Arizona State) and Samson Nacua (BYU) leaving the program has left Utah with a big void to fill going into the 2021 season. Devaughn Vele could be a guy that could help accomplish that.
Vele made some big plays in the spring game, finishing with four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. He has had a great spring camp, according to Whittingham. After the game, Vele told the media that the pressure under the bright lights has been an issue in the past for him but is quickly gaining confidence in his game and is ready to contribute.
#6 2021 Utah Football Team Will Be Really Good
With the five things listed above and many more things I left out, it’s obvious that this Utah football team has the potential to not just win a Pac-12 title but contend in the conference for years to come. Picking up transfers like Brewer, Pledger and Curry, along with the returning talent, this is going to be a fun 2021 season to follow.
The defense wasn’t talked about much in the spring game and in this story but that is because so many talented guys did not play or play much in the game. That is going to be a side of the football that could truly create havoc for opposing offenses this year with so many playmakers top to bottom.
The Utes will now be off until June 1 when they start summer workouts. Fall camp will start either the end of July or the first week of August and the season opener will be on Thursday, September 2 when they host Weber State.
Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports. You can download and listen to the podcast, here.