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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Much improved: defense better in second outing

By Tim Olsen

April 15, 2009 - Logan | After a lackluster performance in USU's first official scrimmage of the spring season, the defense stepped it up in a big way during round two Saturday at Romney Stadium.

"We just made more tackles and swarmed a lot more compared to the last scrimmage," said senior cornerback Kejon Murphy. "We improved in knowing our assignments and just playing the game. We need to just play the game and not think so much. That was key to the improvement."

The defense stuffed the offense on its first two possessions holding them to a back-to-back three and outs as they set the tone for the scrimmage early.

Murphy finished with four tackles and drive-stopping interception near the end of the scrimmage, while the freshman safety Cache Morgan let all players with 10 tackles.

"The defense played much better, we had better emotion with the first two groups," USU head coach Gary Andersen said. "They tackled much better, it was a much more competitive scrimmage. It is what you would look at and say, 'That is Division I football.'"

The scrimmage was indeed competitive and that attitude was embodied in a play that took place between wide receiver Austin Alder and safety James Brindley. Brindley appeared to intercept a pass thrown by quarterback Diondre Borel, but Alder was able to wrestle the ball away from the safety, giving the offense a first down at the 11-yard line.

"The last two weeks Austin has done a really nice job, he is really starting to make that contested catch," Andersen said. "At the first of spring practice we had a hard time catching the ball, but now we are starting to make some plays."

Alder finished with six receptions for a scrimmage high 61 yards.

"Last scrimmage it was all run game but I felt like today the passing game finally kicked in," Alder said. "The line is blocking well and picking up the blitz and the receivers are running better routes. It was an all around good effort."

Despite the defensive improvement, there was impressive play by more than the receivers on the offensive side of the ball.

Sophomore quarterback Diondre Borel completed 19 of 24 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, as well as rushing for 84 yards on six carries including an impressive 70-yard jaunt.

Equally impressive on the day was the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Exavier Johnson. Johnson worked mostly with the second team Saturday after working with the third team in the previous scrimmage, and he made the most of his time.

Johnson completed 11 of 19 passes for 103 yards and rushed for 40 yards and two punishing touchdowns that both ended with defenders on their backs.

"I am not real excited about the quarterback ducking his shoulder and taking guys on, but it does show a kid that has got a lot of fire," said Andersen of Johnson's performance. "He's got something to prove, and plays with that chip on his shoulder, we need more of that, we need to have more of that swagger."

The scrimmage concluded with the first, second and third team offenses going against their respective defenses in late game situation drills.

The offense got the ball on its own 30-yard line trailing by four with 1:15 to play and two timeouts.

During the battle of the first team crews, the offensive drive was cut short by Murphy's interception. The senior had an opportunity to return the pick for a touchdown, but slid down to preserve the win.

In the matchup of the second teams, the offense had more luck. This time, under the direction of freshman QB Adam Eastman, the offense was able to find the endzone.

After driving nearly 50 yards down the field, Eastman connected with sophomore wide receiver Stanley Morrison for a 22-yard TD with six seconds left.

"What we have challenged them to do now is take that next step, they need to expect more out of themselves," Andersen said. "I felt like we have had some kids step up and do that today."

The Aggies will continue to work in practice this week before showcasing their talents at the annual Blue & White game this Saturday at 2 p.m.


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