Should, could and ought isn't the name of a shady legal firm. They're simply the sounds of the season. Such words are uttered each August when Utah's college football coaches gather for the Big 5 Huddle kickoff luncheon with the media.
Tuesday's gathering in Salt Lake City was no different.LaVell Edwards (BYU), Ron McBride (Utah), Dave Arslanian (Utah State), Jerry Graybeal (Weber State) and C. Ray Gregory (Southern Utah) each offered cautiously optimistic assessments of their programs.
A sampling of what each coach had to say:
BYU: Kevin Feterik or Drew Miller? As of now, Edwards said, either one could wind up starting at quarterback for the Cougars in their Sept. 5 opener at Alabama. One thing's for certain, however, the duo will not alternate - though both could end up seeing time at the position by season's end.
"You're daydreaming if you think you can make it through a season with just one quarterback," said Edwards, whose team will play 12 consecutive weeks without a single bye.
And he speaks from experience.
Injuries played a big factor in BYU's disappointing 6-5 mark in 1997. Edwards is confident the Cougars will be improved, but said the key will be how healthy his squad is after opening the season with non-conference games against Alabama, Arizona State and Washington.
SOUTHERN UTAH: After describing his team as talented but not very deep, Gregory took a jab at in-state neighbors BYU and Utah State for denying his program a potentially rewarding payday and opportunity. On Sept. 26, both the Cougars (Murray State) and Aggies (Sam Houston State) face Div. 1-AA opponents. The Thunderbirds, who also compete at that level, have never played BYU or USU. In fact, Weber State is the only Utah school SUU has ever met. Too bad. The exclusion has prevented many fans in the state from seeing former West High standout Brook Madsen excel. The Southern Utah senior has led Div. 1-AA fullbacks in rushing for the past two seasons. Preparation for the 1998 season, which opens Sept. 12 at Montana, gets under way Monday. Ninety players are expected to participate in fall drills - the highest number since 1995.
UTAH: No quarterback controversy here. McBride made it clear that Darnell Arceneaux is the starter and Jonathan Crosswhite a close second when the Utes open practice on Friday. For the first time since 1989, the Utes will not travel to Price for their traditional "Camp Carbon" workouts. The conversion to a semester system will keep Utah on its own campus until the Sept. 5 opener at Utah State. McBride acknowledged he wasn't pleased with last season's 6-5 campaign. In an effort to improve an inconsistent offense, McBride promoted Fred Graves to assistant head coach and named Tommy Lee offensive coordinator. Utah's defense will be bolstered by the return of veteran coach Fred Whittingham. He'll supervise the linebacker corps. McBride is also encouraged by a good recruiting class, but adds "this team has to prove itself."
UTAH STATE: After spending the past nine seasons as coach at Weber State, Arslanian said he felt a bit "disoriented" in his first gathering as head man at Utah State. However, he's well-aware of what needs to be done in his new assignment. Arslanian is confident he can "put the pieces of the puzzle together." Though USU returns only six defensive and four offensive starters from John L. Smith's Humanitarian Bowl squad, the new coach is pleased with the foundation that has been laid. Arslanian joked that the biggest plus might be the absence of BYU on the schedule. The Aggies begin their full squad two-a-day workouts Saturday. USU's season opener is Sept. 5 at home against Utah. The top returnees are All-Big West selections Demario Brown , Tony D'Amato and Johndale Carty .
WEBER STATE: Graybeal didn't hesitate in crediting Arslanian for not leaving the Wildcats' cupboard bare. Weber State returns seven senior starters on both offense and defense. Topping the list of returnees is All-American Scott Shields, a jack-of-all-trades who excels as both a kicker and defender.
Weber's new boss, however, did forecast some changes.
The former defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington anticipates a shift from Arslanian's pass-happy days to a more balanced offense. The Wildcats have the distinction of playing the state's first collegiate football game this season. Montana Tech visits Ogden on Thursday, Sept. 3. The contest will also mark the debut of Weber State's new white football helmets and uniforms not bearing stripes over the shoulders.