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Questions heading into the spring game

This Saturday will be the annual Red & White game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. And while spring practice has gone fairly well, there are still some questions I hope will be answered by the time we leave the stadium Saturday afternoon. Though I'm realistic and understand that it isn't very likely we'll get a clear picture as to how good Utah will be based on the game. However I do think we can get a better idea of where this program stands, what their relative strengths and weaknesses are and what they might need to improve on during fall camp.

Hopefully the spring game yields some nice results, provides us entertainment and gets me stoked for football season.

  • Will Brian Johnson step up? While I'm confident Johnson will perform at a high level once the season starts, he's not been that great in spring practice. In fact, he's been outplayed by Tommy Grady and I'm hoping he at least performs better in the spring game than he did in last week's scrimmage. With that said, I think he'll come around and be at the level -- if not better -- than he was in '05.
  • Will Utah have a running game? It's a question that's been nagging the Utes since Quinton Ganther left the program after the 2005 season. Though Utah wasn't a terrible rushing team last year, it was painfully obvious the lack of a solid running back hurt their offense. That should improve with Matt Asiata coming in from Snow College, however he won't be able to practice with the team until fall camp starts later in the year. Darryl Poston, the starter from last season, is injured and will not be playing Saturday. That means the Utes will need to rely on other running backs, and who knows, maybe one will shine.
  • Will the defense step up in the absence of Weddle? It's a tough question and I hope we get somewhat of an answer Saturday. The loss of Weddle is going to hurt and Utah's defense might struggle early in the year. What I would like to see is a secondary that isn't completely abused by the quarterbacks.

I know these questions are vague and probably won't be answered, but it'll give me something to watch during the game. Last year's Red & White game left me less impressed with Ratliff and we know how that turned out. Two years ago I was definitely impressed with Johnson and I'm hoping the same happens again this time.