A torrential rainstorm the day before had turned the field into a muddy quagmire, so not a lot of offense was expected for Saturday's Purple-White game at Stewart Stadium.
That was just fine by new Weber State coach Jerry Graybeal, who was all smiles after the 90-minute scrimmage, won by the Purple team 14-3. And it wasn't just because Graybeal, the former defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington, is a defensive coach."I'm happy - the effort was great," Graybeal said. "This surface was not conducive to moving the ball. Hopefully we can learn something from playing under conditions like these."
Graybeal has been pleased with his team's progress this spring but says, "We haven't even scratched the surface on either side of the ball."
The fact that the offense has had the upper hand on the defense in two prior scrimmages made Graybeal excited about Saturday's effort by the defenses.
"They've been kicking our tails for two scrimmages," said Graybeal, who specifically coaches the Wildcat linebackers. "If you can control the line of scrimmage you have a chance. This was the defensive line's best scrimmage to date."
The noon game was delayed a half-hour to "let the field dry out," according to the public address announcer, but they could have waited all day and it would never have dried out. Some of the heaviest rain in the state fell in the Ogden area Friday afternoon, and more showers in the evening didn't help.
The first half produced just one score, a 27-yard field goal by Mike Minnoch, who played for both sides. The two touchdowns came in a 77-second span late in the third quarter, both on touchdown passes by returning starting quarterback Steve Buck.
First he threw a 39-yard pass to Jimmy Atkins, who sneaked behind the defense and caught it at the goal line. Then, after a fumble by the White team, Buck passed to John Fassel, who shared quarterback duties with Buck early last season, for a 27-yard score.
"It was fun to get out and put some points on the board," Buck said. "We worked hard out here today. The footing was bad, but we realized we had to score."
Buck, a transfer from UCLA, is working for his fourth different coach and fourth different offensive coordinator in five years. He's happy with the new offense because it is more balanced than last year when the Weber running game was virtually non-existent.
Buck's numbers (5 for 13 for 118 yards) were nearly identical to Chris Wallace, who directed the White team with 6 of 12 for 117 yards. Derek Poole of the Purple team was the top rusher with 12 carries for 50 yards, while Morgan Welch picked up 32 yards on 12 carries for the White team.
Defensively, Scott Shields led the White team with eight tackles, while Michael Thompson added six. The Purple team was led by walk-on Ryan Valentine with eight tackles and Lucien Hardy, Ryan Sandall and Cal Mead with six apiece. The Wildcats still have three more practices and will wrap up spring drills Thursday afternoon.
"When spring ball is over, we're not done," Graybeal said. "We need to continue the learning process and be better students of the game. We were going to win the spring game, I knew that. Now we want to do it in the fall."
The Wildcats will open the season Sept.3 against Montana Tech.