Utah’s special teams — boosted by a healthy Britain Covey — a high priority for Utes

Utah’s Britain Covey (18) heads upfield after fielding a punt during the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.

Utah’s Britain Covey (18) heads upfield after fielding a punt during the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Vonte Davis is a senior and the projected starting strong safety for the University of Utah’s football team, but he’s not expecting either of those facts to relieve him of another duty that some might consider beneath him.

For the past two seasons, Davis has logged a lot of time with the Utes’ special teams units, and he doesn’t anticipate that will change despite his depth chart promotion and upperclassman status.

Like anybody who’s followed the Utes for a while, Davis knows special teams aren’t just an afterthought for Utah. They’re a big deal.

“Even though I’m a starter, I don’t see that (role) changing,” he said, “because special teams are a No. 1 priority here.”

To that point, Davis said the Utes’ special teams coordinator, Sharrieff Shah, treats that part of the game with as much importance as defense or offense. And Utah players know their coaches have high expectations when it comes to kicking, punting and returns.

“The expectations is always to sit in the No. 1 spot,” said Shah, noting that the Utes have been in the top three in special teams production since joining the Pac-12. “The expectation is to have great special teams play. It’s something that Coach Whittingham has put his stamp on. It’s something that we continue to do.”

Whittingham has believed special teams was worth one of his stamps since 1988.

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Following his successful collegiate career at BYU — as a linebacker and special teams player — and a short stint in the NFL, Whittingham took his first Division I coaching job at Idaho State that fall. The responsibility became his after the ISU special teams coordinator surprisingly turned in his resignation.

“I already made the decision when and if I got the opportunity to become the head coach it was going to be a phase of the game that was emphasized and I was going to have a role in. I’m completely involved in the special teams here.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham

Opportunity knocked for Whittingham, and he busted down the door.

“I was given the job as special teams coordinator right then — a week before the season,” Whittingham said. “I had no background in it other than having played special teams as a player, and at that point I fell in love with it. I had a great experience.”

Whittingham spent four years at Idaho State as the special teams coordinator and has carried a love for that aspect of the game with him ever since.

“I already made the decision when and if I got the opportunity to become the head coach it was going to be a phase of the game that was emphasized and I was going to have a role in,” Whittingham said. “I’m completely involved in the special teams here.”

Through the years, the Utes have fielded a variety of top-tier special teams players …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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