Bleeding Red: Still plenty to watch up on the hill

The women on the hill are still chasing a crown
With the Red Rocks and Lady Utes still in the hunt
Meanwhile spring football has turned my frown upside down
I hope that next year there are not too many punts

COMMENTARY — Now that the Runnin’ Utes’ season is over, I’m not quite sure how to spend my time when it comes to the University of Utah athletics. The good news is that there are still at least three sports that warrant my attention.

At the top of the list is football. Football is currently king — at least until Larry Krystkowiak turns the Runnin’ Utes back into the powerhouse they used to be once upon a time. One of the great things about football is that there is usually something noteworthy going on for a good portion of the year.

While the snow continues to fall, spring football has officially bloomed on the hill. The good news is that we get our first peek at what the football team is going to look like next season. The bad news is that not everyone is on campus and practicing who will be competing for a spot on the field come fall.

In particular, I can’t wait until QB Conner Manning arrives on campus from Lake Forest, Calif., in the fall. As a true freshman who wasn’t on campus for spring ball, Manning will be hard-pressed to challenge Travis Wilson for the starting job at the beginning of the season. However, Manning may be able to push Wilson for the job as the season wears on, especially if Wilson falters.

As we enter the second week of practice, competition at some of the positions is starting to heat up. Wide receiver is one of the positions that is going to be key in the spread offense expected to be more fully implemented by Dennis Erickson. Quinton Pedroza has moved ahead of Anthony Denham for the third receiver position, joining starters Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott. Utah’s receiving corps could be very good — that is, if the QB can get them the ball.

However, football isn’t the only game in town right now. The Red Rocks are putting on their annual post-season fireworks show as they go for another NCAA title.

One of the aspects of joining the Pac-12 that appealed to gymnastics coach Greg Marsden was the ability to compete for a conference title. The conference competition also gives the Red Rocks further opportunities to tune up for a national title run.

In the Pac-12 Championships last week, the Red Rocks led for the first three rotations. Unfortunately, miscues on the beam opened the door for Oregon State to win the title on their home floor, followed by UCLA. Utah ended up third.

Nevertheless, the Red Rocks are still ranked ninth nationally and snagged the No. 2-seed in the Tuscaloosa Regional hosted by third-ranked Alabama. The top two teams from each of the six regionals advance to the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles. I fully expect to see the Red Rocks in L.A. come April.

Last, and certainly not least, the Lady Utes are still alive in the NIT. With a big win over San Diego in the Huntsman Center Monday night, the Lady Utes advanced to the NIT Sweet 16 (I hope I don’t get sued for using the term “Sweet 16” in relation to the NIT).

Next up for the Lady Utes is a road game against Pacific on Thursday. If they can survive the road trip against Pacific, there is a good chance that the Lady Utes will play BYU to see who advances to the NIT Final Four (lawsuit alert again).

Florida Gulf Coast University has proven once again in the men’s NCAA Tournament that anything can happen, and that’s why they still play the games regardless of what the match-up looks like on paper. Accordingly, I’m not counting out either the Red Rocks or the Lady Utes when it comes to their own title runs.

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Dwayne Vance is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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