14 Aug

Utah Utes football: Smithson shakes off rough season

first_img U. Seniors finish with 17 straight Related For Shaky Smithson, his first season at Utah up until Saturday had been, well, shaky.He had shown flashes of brilliance, but was slowed by an injury and even demoted to third string at one point.However, in Saturday’s 38-7 win over San Diego State, Smithson was more involved in the Ute offense than he has been all season and was a key performer in the Utes’ ninth victory of the season.Smithson rushed the ball nine times out of the shotgun for 31 yards, once for a touchdown, threw a couple of passes, returned five punts for 54 yards and returned both SDSU kickoffs for 41 yards.”I just love to get the ball in my hands,” said Smithson, who received a lot of publicity, locally and nationally, early in the season for the story of his taking his younger brother under his wing and caring for him a long way from their Baltimore home.Smithson has become the main man in what is now called the “Shaky Package,” which last year was the “Louks Package” and earlier this season was the “Asiata Package.”The “package” is a change of pace for the Ute offense when they take the starting quarterback out in favor of a player who can operate out of the shotgun and either run or pass.Smithson came to Utah as a receiver and caught five passes in a game against Oregon, before being switched to running back the next week when Asiata was injured. Then he got injured himself with a high ankle sprain and sat out two games and missed another when the Ute coaches went with Luke Matthews in the “package.”He played in both the New Mexico and TCU games, but this was the first week his ankle has been 100 percent.”I’m healthy, and they got me in the game,” Smithson said about his increased duty Saturday.Playing out of the shotgun is nothing new for Smithson, who said he was a quarterback until breaking his thumb as a high school junior and switching to receiver.”I’m very comfortable with it,” he said. “I played quarterback all my life, so I feel very comfortable in the shotgun. I’ve thrown the ball a lot.”Smithson made his first appearance in the Shaky Package late in the first quarter and his first play was a flair pass to David Reed for seven yards. On the next play, he ran eight yards to the SDSU 2, setting up Eddie Wide’s second touchdown of the game.Early in the second quarter, Smithson scored Utah’s third touchdown on a 4-yard run.”I love the end zone, so anytime we get the ball inside the 10, I get a chance to score,” he said.Later in the quarter, Smithson was able to show off his arm in the fanciest play the Utes have run in years.Smithson handed the ball off to former starting quarterback Terrance Cain, who was lined up as a receiver, and Cain flipped the ball to Jereme Brooks coming the other way. Then Brooks flipped the ball back to Smithson, who fired a long pass downfield to David Reed. Because Reed was interfered with, it wasn’t counted as an official pass, but it helped set up Utah’s fourth touchdown of the game.”I’m really pleased with the way he responded,” said coach Kyle Whittingham of Smithson. “When he’s healthy, he’s a very effective player and he was 100 percent this week.”Smithson actually left the game in the second half with a thigh contusion, but it shouldn’t make him miss next week’s game with BYU.e-mail: [email protected]center_img Utah Utes whip SDSUlast_img

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