FS Morgan Scalley

2003 Statistics

Coach: Urban Meyer
10-2, 1 year
2003 Record: 10-2
at Texas A&M LOST 26-28
at Colorado State WON 28-21
at UNLV WON 28-10
at Air Force WON 45-43
at Brigham Young WON 3-0
Southern Miss WON 17-0

2003 Final Rankings
AP-21, Coaches-21, BCS-22

2004 Outlook

As 2003's National Sporting News Coach of the Year Urban Meyer heads into his second campaign, he can say he already did things not often, or some even ever, seen at Utah. The AP finish at number 21 is the school's best since 1994. They went 3-0 on the road against conference foes BYU, Colorado State, and Air Force, something never accomplished by the Utes. And by beating Cal, who went on to beat Southern Cal - the eventual co-national champ, Utah effectively proved that they can keep up with the best on any level. With two losses by a total of 14 points, this team has reason to believe in itself and its leaders.

But there is not only joy in Salt Lake City. A shift in the defense's focus has many worried that bigger teams will run the Utes down by the fourth quarter, much like New Mexico did. Well, we are here to tell you that the slate looks doable for repeated results. North Carolina, Texas A&M (revenge game), and Arizona will challenge the Ute's size issues and let us know if these guys are again for real. Bet they are, and look for them to win at least two of those three. A revamped Colorado State team may be more than they seem, and the BYU closer is always a barn-burner. The secondary will keep them in those wild MWC games, but the front-seven will have to be there against the bigger boys.

The question most Ute fans have is about respect. After beating so many so handedly, is the nation ever going to give this second-tier-conferenced school its props? MWC honors are always bestowed on a load of Utah players annually, but national nods rarely occur. It is ok with most who travel to Rice-Eccles for the wide-ranging schedule of starts, though. Flying under the proverbial radar has allowed the Utes to sneak into match ups without threatening opposing coaches, only to have these upstarts challenge for all 60 minutes. Their consistency of late will have them circled on many opponent's chalkboards, but Meyer's bunch is mature and tested, and Smith and company will pick up right where they left off, winning in respectable and decisive fashion.

Projected 2004 record: 10-1
QB Alex Smith
QB - 4 DL - 3.5
RB - 2.5 LB - 3
WR - 3.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Alex Smith, 266-173-3, 2247 yds., 15 TD

Rushing: Alex Smith, 149 att., 452 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Paris Warren, 76 rec., 809 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Bryan Borreson, 11-14 FG, 29-32 PAT, 62 pts.

Punting: Matt Kovacevich, 63 punts, 40.6 avg.

Kicking: Bryan Borreson, 11-14 FG, 29-32 PAT, 42 long

Tackles: Morgan Scalley, 73 tot., 41 solo, 5 TFL

Sacks: Marquess Ledbetter, 4.5 sacks

Interceptions: Eric Weddle, 3 for 0 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Bo Nagahi, 20 ret., 25.5 avg.

Punt Returns: Paris Warren, 23 ret., 7.7 avg.


OFFENSE: Sean Souza-OL, Thomas Herrion-OG, Ben Moa-TE, Brandon Warfield-TB, Brett Elliott-QB, Max Petersen-C
DEFENSE: Lewis Powell-DT, Josh Savage-DE, Ray Holdcraft-MLB, Arnold Parker-CB, Dave Revill-SS

It begins and ends for Utah with junior QB Alex Smith. He has stature, un-teachable pocket presence, and a keen awareness of all receivers and running lanes as they develop. Alex boasts the nation's lowest INT-percentage from all of 2003, 1.13. Accurate to 65%, Smith is also a run threat that coaches save for just the right time. But then they are not afraid to call his number on the ground several times in a drive. The result is an uncanny decision-making process rarely found. Smith would have done well back in the day as his own signal-caller, and with the benefit of Urban Meyer &Co.'s advice, he will soar that much higher as the Utes take it to the next offensive level(s) with Smith.

Running Back
Utah is a team that spreads the field with multi-receiver sets. The RB position is sometimes a second-option as a ball-carrier, but that doesn't mean the chosen back isn't often utilized. The vogue choice of late in Utah has been to get one solid back and run him exclusively, save third-down. Enter sophomore Mike Liti, a recently-promoted third-string runner who finds himself the heir by-default of this responsibility. Liti has an impressive average per carry from '03, so the "Polynesian powerhouse" will likely carry the team this way on his muscular, compacted frame. Receivers and tight ends line up in back, so a "U-back" often occurs this way. There has to be a spring conversion of one of the Ute's bevy of QBs, or there is little depth here.

Wide Receiver
Paris Warren leads the top three receivers back from last campaign. He is the H-receiver in the complex offense of Mike Sanford. Travis LaTendresse will be in a similar role as he and Warren roam the middle and near outside. Deep balls and field stretching are the monikers of sophomore Steve Savoy. The three senior backups will be peppered in to give the Utes an entire returning two-deep roster at WR. This unit will be the standout dimension in this offense.

Tight End
Chad Jacobsen will likely be anointed in spring ball to the starting spot. This agile junior is the fastest TE they have, and has been seasoned with experience throughout his days here. This position is good for quite a few touches (departed-TE Ben Moa had 57 combined, 31 rushes!), so look for the chosen player to be a seem-splitter with soft hands and a hard head.

Offensive Line
Only allowing 16 sacks in for all of 2003 is a good omen heading into the new campaign, but only averaging 3.6 yards per run isn't. Three returning seniors make the right side of the line a sure running alley, while sophomore standout Tavo Tupola has Smith's back at LT. The starters come in averaging right around 300, but the backups are lighter and fleeter, good for fresh legs that will wear down the opponents' dogs via rotation. Make sure you watch for this attrition-tactic as the QB's number is called to rush, but the play winds up being a roll-out instead. Anything goes in this offense, so the crew being familiar with Meyer and Smith means 2004 is a strong year for Utah's line.

This continues, even in Meyer's second season at the helm, to be a grinding offense that can wear you down with ball-control tactics as well as they can strike before you realize what hit you. Meyer has the versatile QB needed to keep foes on their heels. Lining up with three- and four-receiver sets to then run it makes defenses constantly guess, and, therefore, guess wrong much/most of the time. Running averages can suffer, but the clock runs and the sticks move when Smith leads this part of the team. Everything from options to reverses to play-action roll-outs are in the cards in this refreshing offensive approach, so watch the Utes to see why we rank them so relatively high.


WR Paris Warren


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Alex Smith-Jr (6-4, 205) Brigham Au-Jr (6-1, 216
Adam Madsen-Jr (6-0, 204)
TB Mike Liti-So (6-0, 210) Joe Johnson-Fr (5-7, 185)
WR Steve Savoy-So (5-11, 187) John Madsen-Jr (6-4, 220)
WR Travis LaTendresse-Sr (6-1, 199) Jerome Wright-Sr (6-0, 179)
WR Paris Warren-Sr (6-1, 214) Rob Gueck-So (5-8, 182)
TE Jon Clark-Jr (6-4, 225) Willie Sao-So (6-3, 260)
OT Tavo Tupola-So (6-4, 299) Jason Boone-Fr (6-3, 284)
OG Steve Dahl-So (6-5, 358) Eric Pettit-So (6-3, 294)
C Andrew Johnson-Jr (6-2, 300) Jesse Boone-Jr (6-4, 305)
OG Chris Kemoeatu-Sr (6-4, 334) Mitch Arquette-So (6-4, 307)
OT Makai Aalona-Sr (6-4, 300) David Dirkmaat-Jr (6-7, 300)
K Bryan Borreson-Jr (5-10, 194) Dan Beardall-Jr (6-0, 194)
Mike Liti....Litty
Travis LaTendresse....La-tawn-dress
Tavo Tupola....Tah-vo Too-pole-a
Chris Kemoeatu....Kaymoyahtoo
Makai Aalona....Ma-ky, Ah-ah-lo-na
Brigham Au....Ow
Rob Gueck....Geck
Willie Sao....Sow
Eric Pettit....Pet-it
Mitch Arquette....Ar-ket
David Dirkmaat....Dirk-mott



Defensive Line
This area is a mixed blessing, with three of the four starters from a squad that allowed 3.8 years per rush coming back. With only 22 sacks to show for themselves from '03, it is hard to tell whether this inconsistent crew has righted itself. There is size inside, but the two guards are not finding the opponent's backfield enough yet. Marquess "Heddy" Ledbetter is undersized, but plays much bigger - his 38-inch vertical leap is second on the team. But there is concern with the balance of this unit and how it will help the entire defensive side. If opponents can run at will, any clock-management advantages provided by the Utah offense become neutralized.

There is a good enough prospectus here such that it should be considered a marginal strength if all remain healthy. Otherwise, it looks barren for experienced LBs. Spencer Toone is prototypical of all the returning LBs. He is fast (4.51 40-time is fourth fastest on the whole team) and strong, as is backup rover Zach Tune (no relation, in case you wondered). Senior Corey Dodds will line up as an end in third-downs, but has not shown any pension for sacking opposing-QBs yet. The size here has allowed for creative pass-rushing and coverage schemes, but little success in the run-stuffing departments. Pulling guards and traps often work against these guys, so opponents, take notes, and try your best, because it won't be easy, but may be possible. Middle LB duties are crucial, but as of now, unassigned.

Defensive Back
This dimension is the returning strength of the defense, and two of the four who made 2003 such a strong effort are back. CB Eric Weddle has the size to make opponents throw away from him. He finds the ball when runs come his way, too. Free safety Morgan Scalley will be the leader here, and his recognition of run and/or pass calls is the key to the entire squad. Scalley will be relied upon to keep the play in front of him, and since he is such a stud in all categories, expect his leadership to be the defense's glue. Shaun Harper is the other corner and has much promise. Harper has smarts beyond his years, and his heady play will be a big boost in complement of Weddle and Scalley. Pass-defense went from ranking 74th to 28th in one season under Meyer - the defensive genius of DC Kyle Whittingham is now focused in this facet, so expect more of the same as these young men get stronger.

The overall defensive ranking under Meyer didn't budge much, but it did shift, as stated. This is a crew that now takes passing situations seriously as they allow a run or two to get through. With the end result about the same, look for run-stopping to be a need for any team success. The Ute's run-stoppers went from 12th in the nation to 46th. The line is in trouble when the major-conferenced foes are that week's fare. The swarming tactics Utah has employed will be necessary once again. The offense is good enough to keep up with anyone, so the stoppers have their work cut out for them if their defense is to contribute to team successes.


NG Steve Fifita


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Marquess Ledbetter-Jr (6-2, 242) Reza Williams-Sr (6-3, 238)
DT Sione Pouha-Sr (6-3, 324) Paueli Tamasoa-Jr (6-0, 305)
NG Steve Fifita-Jr (5-11, 309) Tevita Kemoeatu-Sr (6-2, 307)
DE Jonathan Fanene-Sr (6-4, 290) Tony Castaldi-Fr (6-2, 236)
RLB Spencer Toone-Jr (6-2, 232) Tommy Hackenbruck-Sr (6-1, 220)
MLB Aaron Bryant-Sr (6-1, 232) Joe Jiannoni-Fr (6-0, 227)
SLB Corey Dodds-Sr (6-2, 225) Alex Puccinelli-Fr (6-1, 222)
CB Eric Weddle-So (5-11, 194) Gerald Fletcher-Sr (5-9, 167)
CB Shaun Harper-So (5-9, 179) Bo Nagahi-Sr (5-10, 193)
Ryan Smith-Fr (5-10, 160)
SS Kawika Casco-Sr (5-10, 196) Antonio Young-Jr (5-11, 194)
FS Morgan Scalley-Sr (5-10, 192) Grady Marshall-Jr (5-11, 205)
P Matt Kovacevich-Sr (6-0, 193) Bryan Borreson-Jr (5-10, 194)
Marquess Ledbetter....Mar-kwez
Sione Pouha....See-oh-nee Bo-oo-ha
Steve Fifita....Fee-feet-a
Jonathan Fanene....Fa-nay-nay
Kawika Casco....Ka-vee-ka
Matt Kovacevich....Ka-vock-a-vitch
Reza Williams....Reh-za
Tevita Kemoeatu....Kaymoyahtoo
Tommy Hackenbruck....Hack-in-brook
Joe Jiannoni....Jee-a-no-nee
Alex Puccinelli....Pooch-inelly
Bo Nagahi....Na-ga-hee




Bryan Borreson, a junior, is a Ute's key to victory. Bryan can win close games, and his consistency has arrived to stay, hopefully. But with 2003's longest FG being 42 yards, it has yet to be seen if he can make or break a tilt from outside the 50.

Senior Matt Kovacevich is another work in progress that needs to arrive. His efforts have marginally cut it, but he doesn't win those close field-position battles like they need. Net punting has been a losing give-and-take for Utah, so look for focused efforts from the entire defensive depth so this can change.

Return Game
Bo Nagahi and Morgan Scalley are worth watching on kick returns. They return as the nation's leading kick returning team. Both, along with PR Paris Warren, are returning, sure-handed fielders who rarely mess up. This area is a strength for Utah, so look for a Ute to finally finish one off right in '04, something that eluded these fleet-footers in '03.


Both QBs (Smith and Madsen) got off to sluggish starts in the spring game, but came back to settle down. Madsen earned the #2 spot this spring. Kansas State transfer RB Orlando Medlock carried 10 times for 55 yards in the spring game, giving the Utes a stable backup at TB. People may be forgetting about TB Marty Johnson. Granted this is like his 18th year at Utah, but if he stays healthy, he's a capable, All-MWC RB. In an effort to improve the run game, WRs worked on stalk blocking this spring and according to coaches, this ability has improved for the unit. RSF Thomas Huff was recovering from injury, but possesses the skills to make heads turn in the MWC…keep an eye out. Keep the other out for Fano Tagavailoa, who (with some time) may be the Utes' version of De'Angelo Hall, playing DB, WR, and even QB. With nothing set in stone at TE, RSF Loma Olevao got some quality reps, and, with some hard work, could crack the starting lineup in '04. He is one of the more athletic TEs of the bunch.

JR DL Kelly Talavou, a transfer from Idaho, looked good along the front. He's a big, physical specimen (with some of the biggest calf muscles in the MWC!) who can come in and contribute right away. This is an area where Utah has been perennially strong, and we see no reason to believe otherwise. Another young DL who made an impact this spring was RSF Martail Burnett. Another RSF, Joe Jiannoni, impressed many and should get a look at the back-up MLB spot. Joe has a good football head and a love for contact - just what (def. coordinator) Kyle Whittingham likes to see. JUCO transfer DB Tim Harris came in and started his claim toward a starting spot with an impressive spring practice. Trust us, this guy covers like glue and doesn't let his receiver out of his sights.

DB Tim Harris (jr)
DT Kelly Talavou (jr)
WR Thomas Huff (rsf)