Go Utes!
Go Utes!
Offense Finds Its Groove In Final Scrimmage

Jereme Brooks had a big day receiving and on punt and kick returns.

Jereme Brooks had a big day receiving and on punt and kick returns.

Aug. 20, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah 2008 Football Tickets


Statistics weren't kept at Wednesday morning's scrimmage, but had they been, the offensive numbers would have beaten anything tabulated in two prior scrimmages. Both the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses moved the ball well, which won them praise from head coach Kyle Whittingham.

"That's the best the offense has looked this camp. Our No. 2 offense, in particular, showed improvement. It has struggled against the No. 1 defense, but did a nice job today," said Whittingham. "The No. 1's picked up where they left off yesterday, when we had a very good practice."

In the last scrimmage before the Utes open their season at Michigan on Aug. 30, several players stood out for the offense. On the first play, Ray Stowers broke loose for a 20-yard gain in a drive that ended with a 42-yard field goal by Ben Vroman. Vroman, who made two of three field goal attempts, filled in for All-American Louie Sakoda. Sakoda sat out with an infected calf, believed to be caused by a spider bite. The bite is healing and he is expected back on the field in the next day or two.

The second string offense threatened to score a touchdown on its first try, aided by a 35-yard run by freshman Sausan Shakerin. Shakerin was finally brought down on the 7-yard line by Sean Smith. With four heralded running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, it initially appeared as if redshirting Shakerin would make sense. His play in camp has probably put that idea to rest, however.

"We thought we would redshirt Shak, but he is playing so well right now that we're planning on using him at both running back and on special teams," said Whittingham, whose two lead runners - Darrell Mack and Matt Asiata - again saw limited action. Mack, who has been nursing a sore Achilles, was not expected to play in the scrimmage, but came in for a few snaps and ran well.

 

 

In the two minute drill, Brian Johnson connected for a 45-yard pass to Bradon Godfrey and a couple of Mack rushes put Vroman well within field goal range. He made a 31-yarder.

The Utes then worked on kickoff returns and long runs by David Reed and Jereme Brooks solidified them, along with Brent Casteel, as the favorites for that job.

Red zone situations followed and the offense performed significantly better than on Saturday, when it struggled to get anything against the defense. Johnson threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Brooks and the No. 2 defense also scored, when Eddie Wide ran 25 yards for a touchdown on the first play against the No. 1 defense. Sean Sellwood made a 32-yard field goal for the second string in other red zone action. The No. 3 offense almost made it three-for-three, when Chad Manis found Chris Joppru in the back of the end zone. RJ Rice and Robert Johnson stripped the ball from Joppru, resulting in an incomplete pass.

The punt return team had its chance to shine next and made up for a poor showing at Saturday's scrimmage. Reed ripped off a 60-yard return for a score, followed by a 50-yard run back by Brooks - both coming against a scout team unprepared for their speed.

The defense, which "did not have its best day of camp, but still is right on track," according to Whittingham, showed some energy at the end of the scrimmage when the offense started on its own 35-yard line. None of the offensive units scored in those drills and Chaz Walker made a big pass breakup.

After the scrimmage, Whittingham reported that attention would now be completely turned on preparations for Michigan. The Utes will hold a light workout this afternoon and have nine total practices remaining before playing the Wolverines in the Big House.

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