Utah coach Ron McBride didn't say it at the time, but he wasn't real thrilled with his team's first scrimmage of spring football a week ago.
After watching a spirited scrimmage Saturday afternoon, McBride could smile and acknowledge a big change in his team's progress."The difference between last week's scrimmage and this week's is like night and day," said McBride. "The thing I was most excited about today was the physicalness they showed. Both sides of the ball did a nice job."
The Utes have several holes to fill from last year's 10-2 squad that ended up ranked No. 8 nationally. The most closely-watched position this spring is quarterback where three players are waging a battle for No. 1.
Last year's backup Brandon Jones, redshirt transfer Mike Fouts and 1993 backup Ryan Shea all got plenty of snaps Saturday and no one has yet emerged as the man to beat.
"All three really showed a lot today," said McBride. "There was not much separation. Fouts showed an ability to escape the rush, Jones showed an ability to play under pressure and Shea made some nice plays."
New quarterback coach Tommy Lee agreed with McBride but indicated the job was Jones' to lose. Jones was the first quarterback to play in the scrimmage and he moved the first team right down the field.
"Brandon was real consistent today," said Lee. "I saw some good signs with Brandon. He has the best feel for the offense."
Lee likes aspects of Fouts' and Shea's games, but says both need to show more consistency. "As we go along it will fall into place," said Lee about the starting quarterback race.
UTE NOTES: Running back Robert Hamilton who was listed as a senior last year when he started several games, may get an extra year because a technicality that cost him a year may be overturned. McBride said there's a 90 percent chance he'll be granted an extra year of eligibility . . . Henry Lusk, who was already granted an extra year of eligibility after being injured last year, looks bigger and stronger this year . . . Cal Beck, last year's hero of the BYU and Arizona games, is a first team cornerback . . . Several Ute stars from last year, including Luther Elliss and Charlie Brown were on the sideline watching the scrimmage.