The offense dominated the scrimmage early as quarterbacks Aaron Cantu and Ammon Olsen both connected on long touchdown passes to wide receiver Chris Robinson. Cantu and Robinson struck first as they hooked up on a short route then Robinson made a couple of defenders miss before breaking into the open and taking the ball 82 yards for a score.
Olsen and Robinson hooked up on an 80-yarder later in the scrimmage when Olsen found Robinson on another short route and again the speedy wide-out from Hemmet, Calif. beat the defense into the end zone.
“The offense started out really on fire with a lot of dynamic plays,” SUU Coach Ed Lamb pointed out. “Chris Robinson led the way [with] two long run-after catches, and just ran away from the defense. A really good job by him and a good job by the offense in finding some seams there.”
Mike Sharp, who started two games at quarterback last year, had significant success at a pair of positions, QB and receiver. Sharp directed the team on one touchdown drive, completing 7-of-8 passes for 57 yards, and capping it with an 11-yard toss into the end zone to Lehi Afatasi. He then switched to receiver, where he pulled in six passes for 85 yards, including another 11-yard touchdown, this time on the other end of a pass from Cantu.
Cantu wound up completing 11-of-16 passes for 190 yards and two TDs with one interception, while Olsen’s numbers were comparable, with 11 completions on 15 attempts with a touchdown and no picks. Redshirt freshman QB Tannon Pedersen also had a fair number of snaps in the scrimmage; he completed 7-of-10 passes for 83 yards but did throw two interceptions.
“Right now we’ve got a group of quarterbacks who are pretty capable, they’re all kind of fitting into the offense,” Lamb said. “Everybody on the offense is still learning the system, still learning the timing. Our quarterbacks are really no different than anybody else, we have a lot of running backs who are capable of helping us in games, a lot of receivers that are capable of helping us in games and I think there are a lot of quarterbacks who can help us in games. It’s going to come down to fall camp, I believe, for fine-tuning the depth chart.”
Robinson led the receivers with eight receptions for 212 and the two scores, while Naia Ursua had eight receptions for 74 yards. Afatasi led the ground attach with six carries for 45 yards while Christian Jensen carried six times for 35 yards.
The defense rose to the occasion after Robinson’s second touchdown, however, forcing three straight punts and holding the offense on fourth-and-inches at the goal line before shutting down the next drive as well. The defense also had its share of big plays, with interceptions by lineman Josh Talbot and defensive backs Michael Byrd and Ty Rutledge, and four sacks, including two by Sione Fukafuka, one by Talbot and another from Taylor Nelson.
“The defense started getting some turnovers and had six or eight series in a row where they really played hard and played well, they limited the offense,” Lamb noted. “Late in the scrimmage the offense kind of battled back, so overall it was very competitive and spirited, there was enough success on both sides of the ball to have a lot of energy and excitement, enthusiasm; it was a lot of fun.”
-- SUU --