Football: Spring sessions offer whiffs of promise

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Urban Meyer holdovers would have been disappointed, but college football purists and Ron McBride would have been pleased with the offensive display put on by the U football team on Saturday.

The Utes ditched the passing game for the majority of their latest scrimmage, showing off an impressive multi-pronged running attack instead. Sophomore backup quarterback Corbin Louks led the offense in the practice game, running the ball seven times for 100 yards. Louks’ performance was highlighted by a 37-yard touchdown scamper against the second-team defense.

The sophomore’s passing wasn’t quite as stellar as he completed just 3-of-9 passes for 18 yards.

“Corbin Louks continues to make plays out there,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He needs to work on his read progression, and he needs to make some more passes. But we feel he’s shown that he has the tools to be a good player for us.”

Complementing Louks’ performance in the backfield were running backs Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide. Asiata carried the ball only four times, but he was good for 47 yards. Meanwhile, Wide had five carries for 44 yards and one touchdown.

“Matt Asiata looked good out there,” Whittingham said. “I think that with him and Darrell Mack in the backfield, we have a solid one-two punch at running back.”

First-string quarterback Brian Johnson paved the way for the Utes through the air, completing six-of-12 for 71 yards and one touchdown. His sole touchdown strike came on a six-yard pass to Freddie Brown.

Johnson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery earlier in the offseason to clean up scar tissue in his throwing shoulder, was off limits to tacklers.

“Brian Johnson is not 100 percent,” Whittingham said. “He is pain free, but his arm strength is not there yet. We know what his capabilities are, and we expect him to be ready to play when fall comes around.”

Defensively, freshman end Derrick Shelby led the team with three tackles for a loss, two of which went for a sack. Defensive end Koa Misi also had two tackles for a loss and a sack.

“It was a good practice today,” Whittingham said. “I thought it was the best practice this spring, but we still have a ways to go.”

The Utes’ next and final scrimmage will be the annual Red-White game on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will wrap up the spring football season.

“We need to work on fundamentals and techniques,” Whittingham said. “Our offensive and defensive schemes are in place, so now we just need to work on our technique, polishing it up before the spring season is over.”

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