SALT LAKE — Fans expecting some offensive fireworks at Utah's annual Red-White game Saturday might have gone home a little disappointed.
In what was likely the lowest-scoring spring game ever, the Reds beat the Whites 7-0 in front of 12,000 or so fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 65-degree weather.
The only score in the abbreviated game came on a 15-yard pass from freshman Tyler Shreve to Dexter Ransom late in the first half. The second half went by quickly with a running clock for two 10-minute quarters.
The lack of scoring was due to a combination of a strong Ute defense and an offense that was not only missing its starting quarterback, but was also using three running backs that had never played Division I football before and had just seven offensive lineman to share between the two teams.
Coach Kyle Whittingham felt his team moved the football well enough, but just couldn't put it in the end zone.
"I saw some good things," Whittingham said. "We saw some guys flying around on defense, the running backs were encouraging, and I thought Harvey Langi ran the football well."
Langi, the freshman from Bingham High School, was the offensive star as he rushed for 63 yards on 12 carries, bulldozing his way through defenders for extra yards. John White led the White team with 36 yards on six carries, while Lucky Radley ran for 28 yards for the Reds and Thretton Palamo had just four yards on two carries for the Whites.
"He played well today," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said of Langi. "He was given more opportunities because the Red team had the ball a lot more, but I thought Harvey did a real nice job."
Ransom, a lanky senior receiver from Texas, was one of the offensive stars, leading all receivers with four catches for 57 yards, including the only touchdown of the game.
"He had a drop or two but he did some good things, his best day as a Ute probably," said Whittingham. "He's got the big frame, he's 6-foot 3, 220 pounds, he's a big target and he will have a role this fall for us.
Ransom, who didn't join the team last year until late in fall camp, was Shreve's favorite target, getting all four catches in the first half.
Of the touchdown, he said, "It was a play where I had to read the two safeties. One of them stayed back a little bit and the middle of the field was wide open so I took it."
The Red team dominated the first half, keeping the ball for 36 plays compared to 15 for the White side.
However, it only resulted in a 7-0 lead as one long drive was stopped by an interception by Joseph Smith on a tipped pass and the other on a missed 35-yard field goal by Nick Marsh.
One of the top defensive players was defensive end David Rolf, a transfer from Michigan State who played in all 26 games in his two years in East Lansing. Rolf had a sack for nine yards, a tackle for a loss and two pass breakups.
Also, Trevor Reilly had 2.5 sacks for the White team, and Terrell Reese had a 20-yard interception return for the Red team.
For the game, Shreve finished with 9-of-20 passing for 122 yards, while Griff Robles was 11-for-23 for 74 yards. Jordan Wynn, the starter for the past season and a half, is expected to start throwing later this month and be ready for fall camp in August.
Chow said the three running backs — Langi, White and Palamo — have yet to separate themselves, but he is hopeful they'll be ready for the fall.67 comments on this story
"We made good progress, but are they ready for Pac-12 football? I don't know," Chow said. "We need a good fall camp, we need a good summer and I think they will be ready and we'll have to make a decision."
Overall, Whittingham was happy with spring camp and Saturday's game, despite the lack of scoring.
"We feel good about our progress, but have a long ways to go," said Whittingham. "This summer's going to be critical to our development and what the players take it upon themselves to do."