Karl Williams ran for a game-high 108 yards and three touchdowns in Utah's annual Spring Game.
April 20, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY - On a day when the offenses combined for 797 yards, the White defeated the Red 35-28 to win Utah's annual Spring Game on Saturday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
With a rainy morning and cool temperatures likely keeping some fans away, 8,633 still turned out as the sunshine finally broke through just before the start of the game. The rain cut loose again as the scrimmage ended, but in between the two teams put on quite an offensive display.
"We made some plays offensively," head coach Kyle Whittingham evaluated. "Both quarterbacks, particularly Travis Wilson, looked sharp today. The receivers made some big plays. I thought all four running backs looked sharp; it's going to be tough to determine our depth chart. Defensively, [we were] very limited. We were tied to one defensive structure, so the offenses should have had some success. But overall it was a very positive end to a very productive spring"
Wilson, who started the final seven games at quarterback last season as a true freshman, led the White team by throwing for 210 yards three touchdowns. He completed 13-of-17 passes without and interception and directed five scoring drives in the first half before calling it a day. Kenneth Scott, who will be a junior in the fall, was Wilson's top target with five catches for 97 yards and a score.
Rising senior Karl Williams led the ground attack for the White, rolling up 108 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
When Whittingham was asked for reasons why the offenses were so good under co-coordinators Dennis Erickson, who is in his first season, and Brian Johnson, who is in his second year, he was quick to point out the play of the big guys up front.
"The offensive line has been night and day compared to last year," Whittingham said. "The main reason is Dan Finn has done a great job coaching them, they've worked their tails off in the offseason, and we've been able to have some continuity in the spring without any injuries. We had 17 guys in spring camp without any days missed, and I can't ever remember that being the case."
Whittingham also likes what he's seen from Erickson's influence so far. "He's adjusted the tempo of the offense, he's simplified what we're doing, and he's added some elements that have been good additions--mainly utilizing the running backs in the throw game a bit more and simplifying the run game. There's not a whole lot of variation from one team to another team that runs the spread, but just those subtle changes can make a big difference."
One of the running backs who benefited from Erickson's changes was Williams, who scored all three of his touchdowns in the first half as the White raced out to a 35-14 lead. On the opening series, the White team grinded out a 14-play drive that was capped off by Williams' 2-yard touchdown run.
Not to be outdone, the Red team scored the first time it touched the ball as well, needing just two plays. Rising redshirt sophomore quarterback Adam Schulz connected with Dres Anderson on 57-yard pass. That set up Lucky Radley for an 8-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.
Wilson had a big play of his own to start his second drive, hooking up with Scott on a 37-yarder. Four plays later, Williams went in from four yards out to give the White team a 14-7 lead.
Schulz countered with another big throw for the Red team to tie the game at 14-14 all, hitting Brian Allen with 28-yard pass in the final minute of the first quarter.
The White team then pulled away by scoring the final 21 points of the half. James Poole scored on a 12-yard swing pass out to the right flat from Wilson, giving the White team a 21-14 lead.
Williams got his third and final touchdown with 3:20 left in the second quarter, battling hard for the last bit of real estate on a four-yard run up the middle.
With the White team already in front 28-14, defensive back Reginald Porter got the game's first turnover by picking off Schulz with just over a minute to play in the first half. His offensive teammates capitalized as Wilson drilled a 22-yard pass to Scott to make it 35-14.
Radley opened the second-half scoring with his second touchdown on a 1-yard run, drawing the Red within 35-21 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Down by more than 10 points, the Red team was allowed to keep the ball and was on the verge of scoring again when Logan Bateman connected with Radley on a 53-yard pass play. However, Davion Orphey jarred the ball loose from Radley at the 12-yard line and it went through the back of the end zone to give the White team a touchback.
But the Red team added one more score to keep things entertaining as Schulz threw a 73-yard bomb to Delshawn McClellon, bringing them within 35-28 with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter. On what might have been the play of the day, McClellon sprinted down the right seam and made a jaw-dropping spin move to shake free from his pursuers, allowing him to dart left and get into the end zone.
Schulz threw for a game-high 245 yards, going 9-for-20 with one pick and two touchdowns. McClellon, a native of North Long Beach, Calif., who will be a redshirt freshman in the fall, made four catches for 102 yards. Anderson finished with three catches for 71 yards. York led the Red team ground attack with 13 carries for 79 yards.
Poole, who is in a battle with Williams and Radley for the No. 2 running back job behind York, had a solid day. He had 10 carries for 62 yards and four catches for 49 yards.
The Utes open their 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29 against Utah State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.