SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It was roughly two months after they originally planed to begin, but training camp is underway for the University of Utah football team.
Perhaps nobody was happier to be back on the field than defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, who was suspended and reinstated this summer after a racist text he sent back in 2013 was discovered.
“It’s been a blessing just to be back with the players again, understanding that I’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of gaining their trust back,” Scalley said. “I’ve had a lot of open and honest conversations with our players, and it’s been fantastic.”
“He’s an outstanding football coach and an outstanding person,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We’ve put it behind us. We’ve all learned from it, particularly Morgan.”
Scalley has quite a task this year, replacing nine starters on defense, including the entire secondary.
“It seems like every year, you’re having to replace someone,” Scalley said. “It just so happens this year, it’s a little bit more. Guys will step up, and it’s our job as coaches to put them in the best situation possible.”
While Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell lead the linebacking corps, the defensive line may still be the strength of the defense, led by Mika Tafua and Maxs Tupai.
“We feel year in and year out the defensive front will continue to be a strength of ours,” Whittingham said. “We very seldom have a year where our defensive front isn’t dominating.”
On offense, all eyes are on the quarterback battle where Jake Bentley and Cam Rising will compete for the starting job. Rising may have the early edge since he’s been in the Utah system for a year.
“I believe it does give him an edge because there is a familiarity,” said offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. “The thing that they both have in common is that neither one of them has ever taken a snap as a Utah football quarterback on game day. So, that’s kind of the great equalizer.”
With all the talent at receiver and tight end, the Utes, who need to replace all-time leading rusher Zack Moss, may change its run-first philosophy on offense.
“We’ve leaned on Zack Moss and had a pretty heavy dose of run over the last few years,” Whittingham said. “But we may change this year. We may need to throw the ball more, which is fine. There is more than one way to get things done.”
As for being picked to finish third in the Pac-12 South, Whittingham gets it, but doesn’t care.
“When you look at the players that was lost and who we have to replace, I don’t blame them for picking us where they did,” he said. “That’s just a typical reaction, and we’ve got to be able to reload and respond.”
Utah kicks off the 2020 season November 7th at home against Arizona.
Dana Greene ABC4 Sports.>