Gabe Long had a big day for the Ute defense.
April 7, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY -
Utah's first scrimmage of the spring featured good ball movement by a veteran offense and signs of improvement from the young defense. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham expressed pleasure about those two aspects after the Utes ran through about 125 plays under warm, sunny skies. He was less impressed at the offense's ability to finish drives and noted that the defense still has plenty of improvement to make.
"I saw a lot of positives and we got a lot of work done," said Whittingham. "We moved the ball well but I expect more out of our offense. We need to put scoring drives together, and with our veteran offense, we expect to find the end zone more. It will happen, but it didn't today."
Part of the offensive struggles, he noted, were due to a strong defensive effort. "Our defense was flying around and making plays. The corners are improving every day and the defensive front is shaping up. We aren't where we want to be at either position, but I am pleased with how they are progressing," said Whittingham.
Starting quarterback Brian Johnson and backup Tommy Grady both performed reasonably well in the throw game (Johnson was 9-of-16 passing for 68 yards and no interceptions, while Grady finished 9-of-12 for 98 yards and no picks), even though neither directed a scoring drive. Drops in the end zone stalled the two best drives.
The three top running back candidates combined to carry the ball 23 times for 123 yards, with Ray Stowers (9 rushes for 59 yards) leading the way and reeling off the longest run of the day - a 23-yard breakaway. Darrell Mack rushed 10 times for 43 yards and starter Darryl Poston rushed four times for 22 yards before exiting with an ankle injury that doesn't appear serious.
Brian Hernandez led the receivers with six catches for 77 yards, although he dropped one in the end zone during red zone drills after absorbing a crushing hit by Elijah Wesson. Utah did produce two scoring plays during the red zone drills on passes from Grady to tight end Matt Sims (6 yards ) and Hernandez 12 yards).
Standing out on the defense was lineman Gabe Long, who had a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup. R.J. Stanford had the day's only interception, picking off a pass thrown by juco transfer Chad Manis.