Defense stellar as offense struggles

By Christopher Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

After Utah’s second scrimmage of the spring season, the defense continued to showcase how impressive it could be next season.

And the offense?

Well, two touchdowns doesn’t seem like it’s going to cut it for head coach Kyle Whittingham.

“We need to be more effective on offense,” Whittingham said.

Redshirt freshmen DeVonte Christopher and Sausan “Shak” Shakerin each had notable days on the offensive side of the ball. Christopher has continued to electrify as a converted wide receiver as he led both sets of offenses in receiving8212;as he did in the last scrimmage8212;with four catches for 40 yards and a 5-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Terrance Cain.

Shakerin stepped into the main tailback role as senior Matt Asiata was held out by the coaching staff, and he made an impact.

The formerly touted recruit from Alta High School rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries, which included busting a 42-yard scamper against the No. 2 defense.

As Utah’s defense looks stellar, the quarterback battle continues and as of right now, there’s no clear-cut answer for Whittingham and his staff.

Corbin Louks, who missed a practice last week because of flu-like symptoms, went 13-of-24 for 104 yards while guiding the first-team offense. The junior from Danville, Calif., also finished with minus-37 yards rushing on six attempts because of the defensive stalwarts.

Cain’s second scrimmage showed much more potential.

He led his offense down the field on a successful and versatile drive as he hit three different receivers for gains of more than 10 yards before ultimately finding Christopher in the end zone for a touchdown.

“I thought we’d see more progress at quarterback at this point of camp,” Whittingham said. “Corbin and Terrance are making some strides and are neck-and-neck right now. I don’t see much separation at this point.”

Cain finished the scrimmage going 15-for-22 and 119 yards through the air.

Shaky Smithson has continued to impress the Utah coaching staff with his versatility and athleticism as he finished the day with five catches for 31 yards that included a 14-yard catch from Cain that set up the offense’s only passing touchdown.

The Utes had six receivers who had more than 20 yards receiving.

Defensively, senior defensive end Koa Misi paved the way for the defense to be dominant at times during the scrimmage. Misi, a senior from Santa Rosa, Calif., finished the day with two sacks, while fellow defensive linemen Mike Laloni and Christian Cox both followed-up their high-quality performances in the first scrimmage with another day terrorizing the backfield as each racked up tackles for loss.

All in all, the Utes had seven different players with pass breakups8212;everyone from defensive back Lamar Chapman, who led the way with two, to recently-converted outside linebacker and former quarterback Chad Manis.

With the annual Red and White game to be played Saturday, Whittingham and Co. know that it is completely necessary that the offense try and work its way up to par with the defense.

“The key is for (Louks and Cain) to just keep improving and getting used to the new tweaks in the offense,” Whittingham said.

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Mike Mangum

DeVonte Christopher runs for the sideline during Saturdays scrimmage. Christopher led both offences in receiving for the day.