OGDEN — First, there was The Longest Day, and then of course we had The Longest Yard.
On Saturday, Weber State staged The Longest Scrimmage.
The Wildcats, under first-year head football coach John L. Smith, held their first full scrimmage of spring practice on Saturday at sun-drenched, wind-swept Stewart Stadium. Perhaps the "L." in Smith's name stands for "Longest," because Saturday's scrimmage lasted nearly three full hours and included almost 200 plays.
"We got a few snaps in, not near as many as we would like to get, but we're so thin on the offensive front I'm just afraid to go much more than this," Smith said — and did so with a straight face.
"But it's a matter of learning, learning, learning, learning, and we need to play the game to learn. So that's what it's all about right now. "But I'm pleased. I'm pleased with the attitude the defense took the field with today, the way they played, the abandon that they showed, the emotion that they showed.
"I'm a little concerned," he said. "We're gonna have to ask some people to step up on both sides of the ball and be better leaders. Our leadership needs to start to surface more, and I need more out of those seniors and even the junior, sophomore leaders. We're appealing to those guys to step and start to become the people that you are and the leaders that we expect you to be. ... It's been good, but we still have a long way to go."
With senior quarterback Mike Hoke sitting out spring practice sessions following offseason shoulder surgery, junior QB Jordan Adamczyk got the majority of the snaps and responded by completing 30-of-46 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Breck Lewis added 94 yards passing on 8-of-14 attempts and also rushed for 60 yards.
Running backs Josh Booker and C.J. Tuckett combined for 30 carries and 129 yards rushing, and junior wide receiver Shaydon Kehano caught nine passes for 146 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown from Adamczyk. Senior wideout Lanny Papanikolas added seven catches for 117 yards and two TDs.
Defensively, Trevor Pletcher, Jeff Gueck and Chris Wheeler each recorded multiple sacks in Saturday's scrimmage, and Tony Epperson had an interception.
"That was a lot of plays, a lot of plays," said Pletcher, a senior defensive end. "It'll be good for the season, though, to be in shape, really good shape. We got a little tired now and then and it caused us to go a little downward for a second, but we brought it back up and I think we finished better than we started the second half of that scrimmage.
"I don't think I've ever taken that many plays in a scrimmage in my life. But, honestly, that's the most realistic thing to a game that we're going to get, with game-type situations. And if you can take more plays in practice preparing for that, you're not going to get tired in a game, and that is a plus."
Conditioning is definitely something Smith is focusing on in his first year at the WSU helm.
"When it gets long and you've been out there a long time, we've gotta grind and be able to win it in the fourth quarter," he said. "... Hopefully when we get to the end of the fourth quarter, we have a chance and we'll go get it. It was good for these guys to condition and go this many snaps, but I wish we could go more."
The Wildcats will get a chance to do just that when they scrimmage again next Saturday, with the annual spring game scheduled for April 14 at 6 p.m.
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