May 1, 2006

Spring camp '06: Lessons learned

Now that spring football is behind us and we've had a little time to breathe, let's take a look at the four main lessons learned during spring camp 2006.

Lesson 1: Don't Get Hurt

Injuries; Anyone that regularly attended spring practices noticed them. That group of players that faced the gruesome regimen of running stairs, dragging weights around, and carrying bags of sand over their heads. Any Ute that gets injured is sentenced to a fate almost worse than the injury itself. They go to the pit.

The pit is brutal, tedious, and unfortunately for the Utes, seemed to be especially active this spring. It's true that the training staff is overly cautious during spring ball. After all, it makes no sense to let a guy get hurt during the spring so he misses any time in the fall. However, several key players involved in position battles spent a lot of time in the pit, and that does not benefit the Utes.

Lesson 2: The Difference Makers

Football presents an interesting dichotomy. It is the ultimate team sport, yet at the same time, any individual player can make the difference between winning and losing. The difference between a good year and a special year in 2006 hangs on the performance of the following five key players, all of which had excellent springs.

Brent Casteel - Casteel may not have been the flashiest receiver on the field this spring, but he was far and away the most consistent. He is in outstanding physical condition, and is playing with a businesslike attitude. Don't be surprised if Casteel has a breakout year with the Utes this fall.

Paul Soliai - Soliai is an absolute physical beast, and he could be the difference between an adequate defensive line and a dominant one. If Soliai can stay motivated and continue to improve his technique, he will create greater opportunities for Kelly Talavou, Soli Lefiti, and Martail Burnett to make plays.

Martail Burnett - Burnett has shown flashes of real potential for two years, and this spring he was unblockable at times. He has added 20-pounds of muscle this spring and if he continues to improve upon his strong finish last season, Burnett could have a breakout season this fall.

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