Dixie State will have its final spring tune-up with its annual spring football game on Saturday afternoon.
The 2022 season will be the third season at the DI level for the Trailblazers.
Looking to improve on a 1-10 season from a year ago, DSU’s spring game may provide some insight into what to expect in 2022.
Earlier in the spring, head coach Paul Peterson said quarterback competition was wide open and the team was still trying to figure out who was going to be “the guy” between Kenyon Oblad, Kobe Tracy and the transferee. ‘Hawaii Boone Abbott.
Tracy showed her accuracy on the court earlier in the spring while Boone Abbott’s escape ability was evident during his time in American Fork.
Abbott threw for 4,472 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior before signing with the Rainbow Warriors.
Tracy took the starting job from Oblad midway through the 2021 season and seemingly began to turn the corner for the Trailblazers.
Every quarterback will have the opportunity to prove that he can be the guy who takes first-team shots in the future.
Tracy should have the inside track, but strong Abbott or Oblad days could change the momentum as fall approaches.
As was a theme in the signing day class, the Trailblazers target the trenches.
Throughout 2021, DSU quarterbacks have faced constant pressure from their hectic schedules. In just 11 games, Trailblazer quarterbacks have been sacked 36 times.
Peterson praised his units in the trenches for their improvements in the spring so far.
If development continues into the fall, the Trailblazers could be in much better shape on both sides of the ball.
Keeping whoever ends up taking snaps under center on their feet rather than on the turf could bolster an offense that has scored just 18.5 points per game.
With a host of new running backs aiming to replace Drew Kannely-Robles, opportunities will be available to improve a ground game that averaged just 3.0 yards per rush.
The added pressure from the front seven could also have a knock-on effect on the defensive side of the ball.
Dixie State had just 22 sacks on defense in 2021.
Livingston Paogofie led the Trailblazers with 4.0 sacks this season. Paogofie has since graduated, leaving Bradley Brown (3.0) as the return sack leader for DSU.
Getting more pressure on quarterbacks will make life easier for a secondary led by sophomore Tyrell Grayson.
Finding ways to stop the run will be another challenge for the defensive front. DSU averaged 239.8 yards per game on the ground.
Finding ways to put more pressure will fall on new defensive co-coordinators Misi Tupe and Shane Hunter.
Wide Receiver Progression
The Trailblazers fire their top three receivers from last year’s squad.
Juniors Keith Davis, Michael Moten and Rickie Johnson are all back this spring.
Davis led the charge with 479 yards through the air on 35 catches. Rickie Johnson tied for the team lead with Kolton Johnson with 38 catches last year. Kolton Johnson is not back with the program this spring.
Sophomores David Fisher and tight end Cade Veach are also back in the fold. Veach led Dixie State in touchdowns with three, and Fisher averaged over 15 yards per catch.
With the majority of perimeter threats having another year under their belt and safety cover at Veach returning, Dixie State quarterbacks could be in line for better years.
Sean Ellertson is a sports reporter for the St. George Spectrum & Daily News. To continue supporting his work, please subscribe to The Spectrum. Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanEllertson.