The sun was shining down on McCarthey Field as the Utes returned to spring practice on Tuesday. Yet despite the good weather, the day of practice was not so sunny for the Utah defense. Continuing a pattern from last week, the offense took advantage of the sloppy defensive play to make strides once again.
Tuesday's practice focused primarily on installing and perfecting the running package. Ball control was once again a major point of emphasis for the running backs, and this time they ran the drills to perfection. In eleven-on-eleven scrimmage situations, the first team offense once again dominated the first team defense on the ground. Quarterback Brett Ratliff came out strong and made the short passing game look easy. On one noteable rep Ratliff hit Sean Smith for an out and up for a 21-yard gain. Derrek Richards caught a 15-yard touchdown on a Ratliff pass that dropped right over his shoulder. Darryl Poston had another great day, showing practically unstoppable moves at times. Poston showed his tremendous speed as he took a hand off from Brett Ratliff and turned the corner for a long gain of 22 yards.
The second team came out and didn't waste anytime ripping the defense down the field. Tommy Grady improved some of his accuracy issues on Saturday, and finished the drills going four for six. Grady also had a nice gain on an 11-yard scramble. Kevin Dunn went one for one on the day, mostly running drills from the third team.
Back in Action
Running back Darrell Mack was out of the pit toay and looking good. Mack is at 80%, still nursing his hammy but still ran the ball well. Mack also had some nice catches out of the backfield. Quarterback Brian Johnson took some snaps in the nine-on-nine and had little problem with his knee. Johnson had good form, as he backed into a three step drop and threw the ball, he put weight on his knee without heavily favoring it. Johnson went two for three in the passing drills. Receiver Brian Hernandez also took to the practice field as he rotated in and out of the pit today. Hernandez is coming back fast from his injury and is getting his speed back with his cuts and is also running clean routes. Hernandez grabbed a couple of balls from Brian Johnson in the passing drills as well.
Stars of the Day
Offense – Darryl Poston had another good day, as he showed his speed and quickness. Poston broke off a huge 40 yard run after a hand off from Brett Ratliff. On perhaps his most uncharacteristic run of the day, Poston showed that he is not afraid of hitting the hole as he put his head down and slammed up the middle for an 11 yard gain.
Defense – Andrew Smart is coming alive playing on the defensive line. At times, Smart seemed like the only one on defense making plays today. Smart was in the back field more than once, and hit Poston in the back field for a 3 yard loss. Smart also came in and put pressure on Ratliff and Grady forcing them both to run with the ball.
Practice resumes Thursday afternoon at the McCarthey Practice Fields.