Kyle Whittingham concluded his first spring drills as head coach at Utah on Saturday.
April 23, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY - Sophomore quarterback Brian Johnson, taking over for Heisman Trophy finalist Alex Smith, directed both offenses and threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns in Utah's annual Red-White Game on Saturday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Red defeated the White 32-23 as Utah finished spring drills under first-year head coach Kyle Whittingham.
The estimated crowd of nearly 5,000 fans enjoyed plenty of offense along with the sunshine and a temperature in the low 70's. The teams played 12-minute quarters in the first half, followed by 10-minute quarters with a running clock in the second half in a game that lasted just under two hours.
Established at the Utes' top quarterback heading into fall practice, Johnson took the majority of the snaps for both teams. The 6-foot-2 sophomore from Baytown, Texas, connected on 19 of 33 passes for 258 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Earlier in the day, Johnson's predecessor, Smith, was taken by the San Francisco 49ers as the top overall pick in the NFL Draft. Before becoming Utah's highest draft pick ever, Smith led the Utes to a 12-0 record a victory over Pittsburgh in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last season. The Utes have also won back-to-back Mountain West Conference championships.
Running back Quinton Ganther, heading into his senior season, was the leading producer on the ground. Ganther gained 118 yards on 12 carries for the Red team. Johnson was the Red's second-leading rusher, gaining 44 yards on six ties. Darryl Poston, a former transfer from USC, rushed four times for 44 yards.
Freshman wide receiver Brent Casteel, lining up for both teams, caught two touchdown passes and ran for a third. Casteel caught two passes for 85 yards and ran the ball four times for 16 yards on the afternoon.
On the first play of the game, Casteel took a shovel pass from Johnson and went 65 yards for the Red team score. Casteel and Johnson flipped sides of the field and hooked-up again on the next series for the White team. They capped off a 12-play, 65-yard drive with beautiful 20-yard pass from Johnson to Casteel in the right corner of the end zone.
The Red squad then put together a five-play drive, capped by Poston's 27-yard touchdown run to take a 14-7 lead.
On the White team's third possession, Johnson completed a critical fourth down pass to Cody Sorenson for 13 yards to keep the drive alive. Senior kicker/punter Dan Beardall then knocked through a 36-yard field goal to bring the White within three points.
Beardall booted his second 36-yard field goal of the game--this time for the Red team--to put them ahead 17-10 with 6:57 to play in the half. In addition to making both of his field goal attempts, Beardall also had a pair of 50-yard punts in the game.
Pate Moleni made one of the biggest defensive plays of the day. After Fano Tagovailoa fumbled a pass reception, Moleni picked up the ball and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 17-all.
The final score of the first half came with 14 seconds showing on the clock. Johnson hit Ganther on a seven-yard pass to put the Red team ahead 24-17.
After a scoreless third quarter, Casteel scored his second touchdown for the Red team, making a five-yard scamper to cap off a 12-play drive. When the snap on the extra point try was bobbled, Beardall threw a pass to Wille Sao for the two-point conversion, giving the Red squad a 32-17 lead.
Ray Stowers then ripped off a 56-yard run for a White touchdown. The pass on the two-point try was incomplete, leaving the score 32-23 in favor of the Red.
The Red team came close to adding another touchdown with a little over a minute left. Sao caught a pass from Chris Sokugawa and ran 39 yards before Kyler Rushton knocked out the ball near the 10 yard line.
Head Coach Kyle Whittingham:
"I felt it went good. We had a lot of things that we wanted to accomplish this spring: the development of younger players, the installation of a bunch of new offensive schemes. I thought we got a lot done. The big thing is that we came out injury free."
"Brian Johnson did a nice job and showed poised and confidence running the team. Just the execution--a few too many turnovers (was a concern). If you are going to win you've got to possess the football, and that's one thing we've got to do better, possess the football."
Quarterback Brian Johnson:
"It was a combination of things that contributed to our performance today. I got a lot of reps today, which was good to prepare me for the season. We were limited to what we could do today because we had our top perimeter players out today. We had to condense what we wanted to do and execute the best we could."
"I feel I'm coming along fairly well, but I have some big shoes to fill. We are not exactly were we want to be, but we have this summer to work on what we need too. Alex (Smith) had a great season and I'm happy to see him going in the first round today."
"We wanted to come out and run things correctly and execute the best we could. Overall, I think we did a good job. But we need to be prepared for summer training."