John L. Smith era begins for Wildcats

Mar 9 2012 - 9:44pm

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(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Weber State players run drills during spring football practice on Friday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
WSU coach John L. Smith instructs his team during spring football practice on Friday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Weber State players run drills during spring football practice on Friday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
WSU coach John L. Smith instructs his team during spring football practice on Friday.

OGDEN -- John L. Smith led his first Weber State spring football practice this week and he just wanted the moment to last forever.

Well, almost.

The fall will be here before the Wildcats know it, but Smith wants his new team to have as much time between spring practices as possible to learn his system. Spring drills began March 7 and will end with WSU's annual spring game April 14 at Stewart Stadium.

"What we wanted to do is back that up as far as we could," said Smith, who was hired in December to replace retired coach Ron McBride. "We're able to get more time with the players, more time watching video, more time increasing our football intelligence, more time installing offense, defense, special teams. That was the purpose of (the schedule).

"A lot of people like to cram it in a short period of time, but we, definitely this year, prefer stretching it out as long as we can," he said.

NCAA football teams are allowed 15 spring practices, 12 with contact.

WSU won't practice next week during the school's Spring Break, but will return to the field March 20. In the meantime, the Wildcats will have some homework to do with a new set of terminology.

"Offensive terminology will change slightly. There will be some different things going in. Defensive terminology of course is going to change a bunch. Special teams terminology, that will all be new to them as well," Smith said. "It's just a matter of picking it up."

Of course, Smith's coaching staff has some homework to do as well.

"That's what our spring ball is about this year. It's finding out about everybody," he said. "And then it's our job to tweak it and to get those guys in the scheme, in the system where they can have the most success. If we do that with everybody, then we'll all have success."

Weber State went 5-6 in McBride's final season, 5-3 in the Big Sky Conference to finish in third place.

Senior starting quarterback Mike Hoke will not participate in spring practices after having shoulder surgery but is expected back for the fall.

Weber State starts spring practice without a returning signal caller as Hoke's primary backup, junior Jordan Adamczyk and third-stringer Ben Maraz, have also had surgeries.

Adamczyk will return after spring break, Smith said, but Maraz will not be back until the fall.

That leaves Breck Lewis and Woods Cross product Tyler Parson under center for now. Lewis, a 6-foot-1 QB from Spanish Fork committed to WSU in 2009 and returned from an LDS mission to enroll this semester.

"Breck Lewis gets a lot of snaps, so does Parson and Adamczyk will take a ton once he gets back from Spring Break," Smith said.

Braden Corpus, a quarterback from Boise's Borah High, will join the 'Cats in the summer.

Senior running back C.J. Tuckett had a lot of success in the final two games of last year, rushing for a combined 465 yards and eight touchdowns, earning back-to-back Big Sky co-player of the week honors as the Wildcats ended with two wins.

It wasn't easy to walk away from the season after that, Tuckett said.

"It was definitely tough. We wanted to go forward and get in the playoffs and have a chance for the championship, but I'm excited to be here," Tuckett said. "We started Wednesday and we've got a lot of work to do, but it's good weather, so we're excited to get started."

Junior middle linebacker Anthony Morales liked the sunshine Friday as well.

"It feels great," he said. "It's a long winter break (from football) -- some lifting and some running, but it's nice to get the pads back on and be out here learning a new system.

"We have a lot to learn before next fall, but that's what this time is for. So far it's been great."

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