In Utah's first spring football scrimmage of 1998, the defense got high marks, and the offense generally behaved like it got hit by Karl Malone's elbow.
With about 100 fans watching from the sidelines at the practice field Saturday morning - including former Ute wide receiver Kevin Dyson, who's expected to be a first-round NFL draft choice next Saturday - Ute receivers didn't do Dyson proud. They didn't go far with the ball if they caught it, and they dropped it too often.Running backs didn't get much more than a couple yards on most plays, and they, too, lost the handle too often. Passes were batted down at the line. "Defensive linemen get their hands up, and the offensive linemen have got to knock their hands down," said U. coach Ron McBride, who's helping coach the offensive line this spring.
After practice, there was a line of 18 white-shirted offensive players kept after school for penance calisthenics. Up, down. Up, down. Up, down.
Some drops and fumbles came on hard hits. Linebackers Phil Glover and Howard Christianson laid the wood on a couple of white shirts. Glover had a 7-yard sack, LB Taulia Lave a 5-yard sack, DE Everestt Matagi a pass breakup and LB Wes Tufaga a fumble recovery.
"I thought our linebackers and secondary ran to the ball well, and we were down in numbers in the D-line because a lot of those guys, we held them out plus a couple guys were hurt over on that side," McBride said. "The defense overall did some really good things."
"The offense was very sloppy, very inconsistent, so I'm not pleased." McBride relented a bit. "I'm disappointed in the offense, but hopefully the defense is ahead of the offense at this time of year, so that's a good sign. We wanted the One offense to be consistent, and we wanted the One defense to be tested. We wanted those guys to shine," he said.
Veteran junior Omar Bacon, who redshirted '97 with Juan Johnson and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala ahead of him, rushed 10 times for 43 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshmen Thomas Fortune carried nine times for 22 yards and Patrick Dyson seven times for 18 yards.
In high-wind conditions, sophomore Darnell Arceneaux, who started and won Utah's last two games of 1997, was 7-for-14 for 65 yards. A 28-yard Arceneaux-to-Matt Nickel (tight end) pass ended at the 1-yard line. Jonathan Crosswhite, trying to win back the starting job he had for most of 97, was 5-for-9 for 74 yards and a 33-yard TD to true freshman Clifford Rus-sell (3-55). Returning starter Daniel Jones had four receptions for 19 yards.