ST. GEORGE— The Trailblazers kick off the season in three weeks and they are eager to start playing some football games.
Utah Tech conducted a full-speed scrimmage in practice Saturday morning as preparations continue for the season opener Sept. 3 at Sacramento State.
“This was a controlled scrimmage,” fourth-year head coach Paul Peterson told St. George News after the practice ended.
“We did some things offensively and defensively on purpose,” he added. “We wanted to see a lot of guys. Everybody got some snaps.”
With fall camp progressing smoothly, Peterson noted that key athletes on both sides of the ball are being developed consistently without being overworked.
“We want to make sure they get the reps that they need and then also keep them healthy for our games,” he said.
Interested fans are following the position battles at quarterback and wide receiver.
As previously reported in St. George News, Utah Tech’s competition for the starting quarterback position is robust with six different signal-callers on the roster.
While last year’s starter Kobe Tracy and transfers Boone Abbott (Hawaii) and Victor Gabalis (Washington State) might be called the front runners to earn the job, Peterson said it’s possible the Trailblazers won’t name a QB1 until the game at Sac State.
“I think they all have their tools that they do really well at,” Peterson said. “We’re going to try to call plays to help their strengths. But I think it’s going to be a game time decision, if not playing one then we’ll play multiple quarterbacks.”
Meanwhile another vigorous competition on offense is to determine a starting rotation of wide receivers. On the roster, it looks like Utah Tech is going to have a deep, talented receiving corps.
“We had a lot of these guys from last year, they just got hurt,” Peterson said. “Four receivers on the sideline hurt is going to cost you. So again keeping those guys healthy and going full throttle throughout the season is the goal.”
Fifth-year player Deven Osborne, listed at 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds, leads a deep Trailblazers receivers group that includes former Pine View standout Michael Moten, Keith Davis, Malcolm Ross-Turner, Rickie Johnson, AJ Simpson-Battle and former Crimson Cliffs player Jayton Tanibe.
With three weeks to go before kickoff, the Trailblazers are forming a group identity and coming together as a team.
“We’re doing some team bonding,” Peterson said, adding that the Blazers recently had a team activity at Sand Hollow for some boating and recreating.
“I think they’re having fun but they’re working their tails off, and you can see that,” Peterson said. “When it’s not a grind, when you love being out here, I think that’s when you build something special.”
At this point early in the season, Peterson said the coaches are letting the players set the tone.
“These guys are putting in the effort and as coaches we’re just trying to put them in a good situation and get out of their way,” he said. “And they’re leading us now, so it’s fun to watch.”
A preseason poll of Western Athletic Conference coaches predicted Utah Tech will finish last in the conference. Their first WAC game is scheduled for Sept. 24 on the road in Cedar City against Southern Utah University.
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