First Spring Scrimmage Saturday

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After three weeks of practice, the U football team is ready to take the next step in its preparation for the 2002 season. Its first scrimmage of the spring will take place this Saturday at the McCarthey Practice Fields, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

It is the first of three scheduled scrimmages the team will hold during the course of the spring, the last of which will culminate with an intra-squad game April 27.

On Saturday, the Utes will run through about 100 situational plays, including red zone drills, driving the ball out from the end zone, driving the ball downfield, and goal line work from the 3-yard line.

Coach Ron McBride is pleased thus far with the advances he sees being made?especially from the already-proven defensive unit.

“I really like the progress of our defense. It looks to be a solid group,” he said. “They still have room for improvement, but they are fit and mentally tough. They are playing with a lot of emotion.”

All scrimmages and practices (which run on Mondays and Thursdays starting at 3:30 p.m.) are open to the public, and admission is free.

Born to Run

Even as McBride and offensive coordinator Craig Ver Steeg continue to attempt to diversify the Utah offense, its staple remains the power running game.

However, with last year’s two incumbents, Dameon Hunter and Adam Tate, both out of eligibility and hoping to hear their names called when the NFL Draft takes place on April 20-21, the identity of their successor remains in question.

The primary candidate would seem to be former walk-on Marty Johnson, who overshadowed both Hunter and Tate in last year’s season opener versus Utah State by carrying 6 times for 95 yards and a score before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

However, fate seems to be conspiring to keep him from the position, as he’s suffered another injury and didn’t practice all last week. In the meantime, McBride wants to see others step up.

“Our running backs have to continue to run downhill and break tackles,” he said. “J.R. Peroulis is getting most of the reps since Marty Johnson has been out with a knee problem.”

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