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For much of Saturday's two-hour scrimmage in Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Ute football staff let the No. 1 offense and defense square off, while the second and third string lined up against each other. However, several starters sat out of the tackling segments - participating only in the "thud" drills, which gave some young players a chance to shine.
Sophomore walk-on Collin Robinson was one of those, catching five passes for 34 yards. Sophomore Eddie Wide was the workhorse running back, rushing 12 times for 34 yards, and junior walk-on Bo Hikila had eight carries for 22 yards.
"Collin (Robinson) made some good plays. This is his chance to shine," said head coach Kyle Whittingham after the 18-period, 78-play scrimmage. "We are thin at wide receiver and defensive tackle right now so it provides an opportunity for a lot of the younger players."
Freddie Brown was one of the scholarship receivers pitted against "live" tacklers, and he caught four balls for 34 yards. The others were Jereme Brooks and Bradon Godfrey, who accounted for Utah's two touchdown grabs.
Among the offensive starters who sat out of live drills were two coming off season ending injuries. Receiver Brent Casteel and running back Matt Asiata looked impressive in non-contact segments, with Casteel making a couple of catches for 14 yards and Asiata rushing for 12 yards on five carries.
Quarterbacks Brian Johnson and Corbin Louks shared time with the No. 1 offense and both quarterbacks were off limits to tacklers. The same did not hold true for backup Chad Manis, was hit virtually every time he threw the ball.
Louks had the best day of the three, completing 11-of-16 passes for 66 yards and rushing for 39 yards on eight carries. Johnson completed 4-of-6 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown - a pretty 14-yard strike to Godfrey in the back corner of the end zone. Manis finished 2-of-6 for 23 yards, a touchdown and an interception. DeVonte Christopher, who finished high school early and enrolled in classes at Utah in early February, got a taste of competition. In a brief appearance, the youngster was 0-of-2 with an interception.
Most of Utah's scoring came from kickers Louie Sakoda and Ben Vroman. Sakoda, a returning All-American, was 6-of-6, which included two 47-yarders and one from 46 yards. Vroman, 4-of-6, also made a 47-yard field goal and his misses were both from 61 yards.
Defensively, redshirt freshman Brandon Burton (2 interceptions), sophomore tackle Lei Talamaivao (2 sacks), redshirt freshman DB Chad Walker (2 sacks) and senior tackle Aaron Tonga (sack assist and a fumble recovery) stood out.