American Football

Here are the main takeaways from SUU football scrimmage


Southern Utah capped off with a padded scrimmage on Saturday, and the defense took advantage.

Getting the green light to lay down some hits, SUU head coach Warren Demario said the scrimmage was highlighted by physical and hard-hitting plays.

All three teams of the T-Birds' defense showed out, keeping the offenses out of the end zone and forcing two interceptions by the end of practice. Here are five things The Spectrum of the first scrimmage of the fall.

1. First-team offense highlighted with young faces

The first-team offense, much like last season, featured Chris Helbig as his quarterback and All-American Zach Larsen on the offensive line had a few young faces.

Freshman wide receiver John Mitchell, freshman redhead Artese Gregory and redshirt sophomore Braxton Jones played with the first team, with Mitchell impressing the most of a young wide receiver group.

Joining Mitchell were junior Judd Cockett, senior Carlos Baker and junior tight end Nick Colson.

Junior running back Lelon Dillard also ran with the first team, mainly because starting running back Jay Green sat out.

2. The first-team defense is taking its time

While the first-team offense rolled out the same players for its first and second drives, the defense was a little more fluid. That's because Defensive Coordinator Brandon Fisher is taking his time to figure out who he wants to play.

Specifically, Fisher is rotating out at defensive line.

"We've got a lot of depth there," said Fisher of the defensive line. "We're just rotating guys now, trying to find our rotation, how are we going to work."

Fisher said he's also doing the same with the secondary, saying he's trying to field the best possible secondary unit.

He has time, too. SUU does not open at UNLV for another two weeks.

"Right now, I'm not overly concerned with ones and twos," said Fisher.

3. Consistency from the first-team offense

While the first-team offense did not get into the end zone, they did drive the ball effectively into the red zone on its first of two drives on the day.

Helbig was able to get a grip on the fall of the world.

In the red zone, from about the 10-yard line, Helbig threw in a second down, and forced to short gain on third.

Although the offense stalled, it was able to get a field goal and get points.

The second drive looked promising until a false start penalty derailed all momentum. Still, the first team did not turn the ball over, which was a win in Warren's eyes.

"Our defense did a good job keeping the offense out of the end zone, Chris said," Warren said. "I hope we can learn from that and not hurt ourselves."

4. The secondary had a knack for the ball

Four times Southern Utah's defense had a chance to come back with an interception. Twice, they capitalized.

Secondary players got their hands on the past, which should have been picked out. But, it was a good sign of things to come back in a year.

These picks and almost-picks came during the two-minute drill, which pleased Fisher.

"Interceptions, turnovers in two-minute drives end games right there," said Fisher. "It was good to see those guys respond."

One of the above mentioned two interceptions was a phenomenal one. The defender, on the second-team defense, was able to hit the ball. It was a phenomenal interception that the majority of the defensive sideline rushed the field to celebrate.

5. General health of the 'Birds

Jalen Russell and safety Kyle Hannemann did not participate.

Russell had a walking boot on at practice. However, it is only precautionary in the future, and both he and Hannemann should be ready to participate in the upcoming weeks.

The freshman Mitchell took a big hit in the back of the field. But, he eventually walked off on his own.

Overall, the T-Birds are healthy entering week two of fall practices.

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Follow Chris Kwiecinski on Twitter @OchoK_. You can contact him at, or (435) 414-3261.

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