OGDEN — Imagine undergoing a root canal ... at the DMV ... listening to Rosie O’Donnell. That’s nearly equivalent to the artificial noise cluttered with screams, whistles, applause and the national anthem on repeat echoing throughout Stewart Stadium on Saturday.
The purpose was to replicate game-like situations and prepare Weber State players for a myriad potential distractions during the season (including an annoyed applied science faculty in a building adjacent to the stadium).
“We can’t control crowds. We can’t control officials,” WSU coach Jody Sears said. “We had the music on during the practice portion, but it wasn’t for their enjoyment. It was to manufacture chaos so we can focus on the obvious — attention to detail.”
Overall, Sears feels the first of three scrimmages leading up the purple and white spring game April 13 was successful.
“I liked the energy (and) the physical play,” Sears said. “I like the offense in terms of their execution. We put a couple on the ground in the red zone, but overall the functionality of the offense and defense — I’m pleased. We’re not nearly close to where we need to be in the fall. We’re trying to win each individual day right now.”
The Wildcats, who finished 2-9 in 2012, showcased four quarterbacks behind center in new offensive coordinator Robin Pflugrad’s high-tempo scheme.
Juniors Alfonso Medina and Jordan Adamczyk appeared to separate in the first full-fledged scrimmage. Medina displayed a command of the offense and an ability to escape the pocket and find open space downfield. The JC transfer hit senior Erik Walker on a 35-yard post route touchdown on the first series.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Sears said when asked if Medina is a current front-runner to earn the starting nod. “He had a good day. This was probably by far his best practice of the six. I’m pleased with his progress. Nothing has been decided. It’s open competition right now.”
Walker was the recipient of three scoring tosses and Sears also highlighted Braden Corpus and Synjohn Lilly as standouts in the receiving corps Saturday.
Marquel Holmes shined defensively at linebacker, showing glimpses of instinctive pass coverage ability highlighted by an interception on a slip screen. The secondary also displayed closing speed and rarely allowed anything over the top.
“He’s lost some weight and he’s movin’ around really good,” Sears said of Holmes. “I’m pleasantly pleased with him.”
The glaring weakness was in the trenches. The offensive line struggled to contain a four-man rush at times, forcing the offense into a three-second-or-less distribution pattern. With only six practices, cohesion up front isn’t expected.
“A lot of the breakdowns are easily correctable and at the same time we’ve got to find out who exactly those five guys are going to be,” Sears said. “I’m pleased with the work they’ve put in these first six practices. That’s going to be the emphasis — always is — going to be the heart and soul of your team.”