LEAD Weber State Football Scrimmage 01

Weber State's Jake Constantine looks to pass the ball during a scrimmage practice Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

OGDEN — The Weber State football team lined up for its first live action of fall camp Saturday with a scrimmage at Stewart Stadium.

With pads popping in full-tackle mode, two quarterbacks took most of the reps but it was clear the Wildcats’ QB battle is far from over.

Jake Constantine, a sophomore transfer from Boise State and Ventura College, saw most of the first-team reps, and Kaden Jenks, a redshirt freshman, took many of the second-team reps. There were flashes of efficiency, but some sloppy play bogged down drives as they got moving.

In two-minute drill sessions, defensive end Jonah Williams picked off Constantine when he tried to make a dump-off throw in the flat against pressure. Williams rumbled 49 yards for a touchdown.

In Jenks’ two-minute session, a pair of whistle sacks (QBs were still not live) backed him up to a deep fourth-down throw, which was intercepted by linebacker Noah Vaea.

“I’m disappointed today in the decision-making,” offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said. “I think what happens for them right now, they’re in a battle to win a job so they try too hard to make plays instead of staying within the parameters of what we’re asking them to do in the offense. So they tended to freelance a little bit today and it got them in trouble.

“There’s a lot to learn from the film. From a decision-making standpoint, we didn’t have a very good day. It’s never as good as you think or never as bad as you think, so we’ve got to watch the film and get better.”

Constantine had two of the better positive-yardage plays in the passing game, opening the scrimmage with a 28-yard toss to tight end Junior Latu. He also hit receiver David Ames on an out route and he scampered for a 28-yard gain.

Constantine is working his way back from an ACL injury and has therapy sometimes twice a day.

“I think all the other guys look good now, too, so it’s anyone’s battle,” he said. “We’ve got to improve on the little details on the offense. We had really good moments today, but there are times when it’s like ‘what are we doing out there?’ We just need to tighten up the little details and we’ll be alright.

“All of us QBs need to get better but I think if we do that, this team could be unstoppable.”

Jenks agreed the job is still up for grabs.

“I’m just happy the quarterback room is tight right now,” Jenks said. “We’re all still good friends even though we know we’re competing. There’s not really a leader right now, everyone’s still vying and competing for the job.”

Head coach Jay Hill said he’d seen improvement and separation from Constantine and Jenks, but Schramm is still leaving the door open with 10 days in the books.

“Rathen (Ricedorff) is still nursing his hamstring, so he’s been out. Braden (Miles) has done some nice things, he’s not out of the mix yet by any means. We’ve just got to keep progressing, watch the film, grade the film, and if somebody else needs to take more reps, then we’ll make that decision after we see what the film looks like.”

The scrimmage was not conducted like a game. Each session began in a new situation — with 65 yards to go and four minutes left, with 65 yards to go and two minutes left, red-zone situations and more.

Elsewhere, many proven starters — Williams, Treshawn Garrett, Rashid Shaheed, Brady May, LeGrand Toia, Landon Stice — saw limited action as Hill looks for other players to step up.

“There’s still signs this could be a really good team,” Hill said. “But more than anything, what was obvious to me is that when we started pulling out starters, then things got a little sloppier. So we need the backups to really take a big step forward over the next couple of weeks. That was the very most evident thing that came out of today.”

Defensively, Hill pointed to interior defensive linemen Jayden Palauni, Filipe Sitake and Kalisi Moli as players who’ve improved.

In the secondary, returning players Jawian Harrison, Trey Hoskins and Preston Smith are as strong as expected, Hill said, while Keilan Benjamin has stepped up at cornerback as WSU looks to replace Taron Johnson and Xequille Harry.

Jeremy Maxwell, held out for concussion concerns, and Parker Preator, who sat with a flare-up of an old ankle injury, have made progress at cornerback as well.

“Bottom line, we didn’t have a lot of starters out there, which is fine. I know a lot of those guys I’ve mentioned we can win with,” Hill said. “I need to see which backups can step up.”

Benjamin made for one of the scrimmages memorable moments. After the first-team defense stripped a ball carrier as he went to the ground, the ball squirted away from the scrum. Benjamin won the race to the ball and had only Constantine to beat with a field of 65 yards ahead of him, but he tripped at midfield amid heckles from his defensive teammates.

A play that drew oohs was a third-and-1 run to Cameron Hansen that was blown up in the backfield by linebacker and Box Elder alum Breckin Gunter.

Camp is expected to continue six days a week through Aug. 23 before the Wildcats enter game week ahead of the Aug. 30 opener at Utah.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

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