OGDEN — Weber State's football team will kick off its 2012 season nine days from now in a late-night matchup on Sept. 1 with Fresno State.
So the Wildcats decided to stage a little late-night scrimmage Wednesday evening at Stewart Stadium, where they tuned up for the season-opener by going 60-something plays in a controlled atmosphere which was somewhat sparse on starters — and highlights.
WSU's starting quarterback, senior Mike Hoke, saw very limited action and wound up completing 4-of-6 passes for 67 yards. His favorite target, junior wide receiver Shaydon Kehano, and starting fullback Tevia Tolutau — both all-Big Sky Conference selections last season — sat out the scrimmage. The Wildcats' top two running backs, senior C.J. Tuckett and junior Josh Booker, were both held out for precautionary reasons after getting a little banged up in fall camp. And senior defensive end Trevor Pletcher also stayed on the sidelines with a sore ankle.
Jody Sears, WSU's interim head coach who was thrust into the top job in late-April when John L. Smith bolted for the Arkansas head coaching job, saw some positive signs — along with some things which he wasn't wild about — in Wednesday's controlled scrimmage.
"I wish on defense we were a little more crisp," he said. "I thought our energy was good and I thought we came out here fairly fresh, but our tackling wasn't good enough and we've got to get that thing shored up.
We've got to play a little better with our eyes on defense and be more consistent, but these aren't things that are terminal and we can get it corrected.
"We kept some of the guys out. We wanted to give some of the young guys a bunch of reps and see what we had. The offense was sharp, and they've been showing that these last four or five days of practice. We want to see those young guys go and see what we've got and see who's going to be able to help us and who we need to redshirt. It's been a physical camp and at times tonight it sounded and looked like college football."
Hoke, who had offseason surgery on his right shoulder and sat out spring practice, said at the start of fall camp that his surgically repaired shoulder "felt really good. It's fun to have my arm strength back again."
Hoke also said that he and his teammates have been working hard during the summer leading up to this season, both on the physical aspect of the game as well as the mental and emotional side of football.
"We didn't have to harp on guys to work out and a lot of guys took the initiative," he said. "Everybody wants to be good this year and really put in the time.
"Whatever happens, we've got to keep on moving forward. Whatever happens to the coaches or on the field at Fresno State, or whatever happens after that, that's what's going to happen and we've just got to keep on moving forward, forget about it and play the next play. All that stuff that happened in the offseason off the field shouldn't translate onto the field."
The offense scored three touchdowns in Wednesday's scrimmage — on a 24-yard run by senior Kris Parham, a 20-yard TD toss from junior quarterback Jordan Adamczyk to freshman tight end Zane Smith, and a 20-yard pass from freshman QB Ben Maraz to junior wide receiver Erik Walker.
Adamcyzk wound up 6-for-11 for 121 yards with two interceptions, and Maraz went 6-for-14 for 109 yards.
The only other score came on a 65-yard return by freshman cornerback Cordero Dixon on a field goal attempt which was blocked by freshman cornerback Daniel Henry. Junior safety Tony Epperson and sophomore cornerback Devin Pugh each had interceptions.