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OGDEN, UTAH - Weber State held its first scrimmage of the Spring on a cold, windy afternoon on the artificial turf field at the Wildcat practice facility. Both sides of the ball, in particular the offense, were missing key players due to illness or injury, but that didn't stop the offense from scoring four touchdowns during the 90 minute battle.
"I thought we did some good things on both side of the ball," said McBride. "I was very pleased with the play of our second offense unit. They moved the ball well."
Missing from the offense were two-time defending Big Sky rushing champion Trevyn Smith (5-9, 210 Jr.) and full back Marcus Mailei (6-1, 255 Sr.) both of whom were named First Team All-Big Sky last season. Smith will be out the entire Spring rehabilitating his shoulder after off season surgery. Mailei is nursing a slight injury.
With those two out, it was an opportunity for Eric Lee (5-11, 235 Sr.) and red-shirt freshman Justin White (5-10, 185) to showcase their talents. Lee had 16 carries for 82 yards scoring two touchdowns and had a 30-yard touchdown reception off a screen play as well.
"I am just trying to play my best," said Lee. "Trevyn and Justin are both good running backs and I would love to see all three of us run for over a thousand yards next season. I am just trying to get better each time I carry the ball. My goal every play is to get to the end zone."
Lee's play did not go unnoticed. Coach Ron McBride was singing his praises afterwards.
"Eric had a break out practice today," said McBride. "That's the performance we've been looking for since he came to us last Fall. He's a 235 pound back who can run a 10.4 hundred meters. His motion is always forward and when he gets a head full of steam like he did on the screen pass he's really hard to catch or bring down."
White had just six carries for 29-yards but caught a five-yard touchdown pass in the red zone series. The offense scored two touchdowns and added two field goals going four of seven in the red zone series.
"Last year we were at the bottom of the league in red zone offense so we've made that a priority this Spring to get better," McBride said. "Two touchdowns and two fields out of seven tries is a better percentage than we had last Fall but for us to be successful that needs to be 80 percent or better."
Defensively, McBride said he was pleased with his three starting linebackers in the way they got to the ball quickly and with some enthusiasm.
"Ryan (Galovic), J.D. (Folsom) and Biff (Swan) are every day players. They bring it 100 percent every play in practice or in the game so I am really excited about our starting linebackers. We have some good young players behind them who are getting better and we need them to continue to improve to provide depth this Fall." said McBride.
McBride was pleased with his two quarterbacks, especially on the "hot reads" where they picked up the blitz and made positive yards.
"Both Cameron (Higgins) and Brendon (Doyle) have the speed and quickness to avoid trouble," said McBride. "I thought they both did a nice job this afternoon of finding the open receiver quickly under pressure and they both made some nice runs."
Higgins, who started the last seven games of the 2007 season, completed 7-17 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Doyle was 10-15 for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Neither quarterback threw an interception in 32 passing attempts.
Bryant Eteuati (5-7, 160 Sr.) was WSU's leading receiver last season with 53 catches for 720 yards and four touchdowns. He led all receivers in the scrimmage with six catches for 62 yards. The catch of the day was made by sophomore Mike Phillips (6-1, 185 Soph) who used his tremendous leaping ability to snag a 20-yard TD pass from Higgins during the "red zone" series.
The Wildcats will scrimmage again next Saturday, April 12 at 1:00 at the practice facility. The annual Purple/White Intra-Squad Game is set for Saturday, April 19 in Stewart Stadium beginning at 1:00 p.m.