Offense looks good in scrimmage

Travis Wilson looks for a reciever at a scrimage during spring camp.–Chris Ayers Colby Patterson
Travis Wilson looks for a receiver at a scrimmage last week. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Travis Wilson looks for a receiver at a scrimmage last week. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Just four months ago, it was unclear whether or not Travis Wilson’s career was over. On Saturday in Utah’s first scrimmage of the spring at Rice-Eccles Stadium, he was close to looking like the player who got off to a great start in 2013 before injuries derailed his season.

Wilson completed 11-of-21 passes for 182 yards and five touchdowns. He also was effective with his legs, scrambling for multiple first downs.

“It feels really good,” Wilson said. “It feels so good to be back in the swing of things. I am really happy to just get another chance to play football and today was a great showing of our new offense.”

Short of being officially cleared by doctors to resume full-contact action, Wilson showed that there is very little chance for the other Ute quarterbacks to supplant him. Wilson’s first touchdown pass came on a crossing route from senior wide receiver Dres Anderson, who turned it into a 58-yard chase to the end zone on the first drive. Anderson, who finished with 114 receiving yards on three catches, also caught the final touchdown pass of the day from Wilson, a 37-yard rainbow that hit him in stride.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham was very pleased with Wilson’s performance, especially with how the junior handled the pace of the offense.

“This was his best day,” Whittingham said. “He was rushing it when he started spring and he was not allowed to do much of anything in the offseason. He is still not quite where he was when he was hitting on all cylinders early on in the season, but he has made a lot of progress.”

Other notable performances on the offensive side of the ball Saturday came from running backs Marcus Sanders-Williams and Bubba Poole. Sanders-Williams had eight carries for 73 yards and a touchdown while Poole had 10 carries for 45 yards.

On special teams, kicker Andy Phillips was back to his old self, connecting on field goals of 52 and 53 yards. On defense, Utah was without a handful of its starters. Jason Whittingham and Brian Blechen are still recovering from surgery, while Eric Rowe, Gionni Paul and Nate Orchard were kept out for precautionary reasons.

“We have six or seven of our starting defense not out there and we need to count the defensive tackles that are not available for practice,”
Whittingham said. “The big positive is that all of those guys will be available at the start of camp in the fall.”

The Utes will return to practice on Tuesday. They will hold another practice on Thursday and then have their second scrimmage at Rice-Eccles on Saturday.

b.barlow@chronicle.utah.edu