He found two who did so, in freshmen Nina Kim and Kristina Baskett.
Baskett edged Kim in the all-around, and in the process the duo led No. 2 Utah past No. 20 Minnesota 196.65-193.4 Friday in front of 12,746 fans at the Huntsman Center.
Baskett scored a 39.35 and Kim scored a 39.325 in the all-around. It was Baskett's second all-around win and the first time in four meets Kim has competed on all events. Kim missed the last home meet because she was sick, and has been slowed by sore knee.
The usually high-scoring Ford didn't have a fall, but both her beam and floor start values were lowered to 9.8s because of mistakes.
"She has been so dependable and has covered so many times for the team, I told the others it was their turn to repay her for that tonight," Utah coach Greg Marsden said.
The meet was never really in jeopardy, not after the Gophers suffered three falls on the bars, but the Utes still need big scores to stay near the top of the rankings and are still struggling with consistency, giving them enough to worry about without a challenging opponent on the floor.
Kim earned career highs of 9.9 on the bars and 9.825 on the floor, a 9.825 on the beam and a 9.775 on the vault. The vault score drew a puzzled look from both Marsden and Kim, who thought she might get higher marks after sticking the landing.
"I guess I could have blocked off the horse better," Kim said. "But it felt good."
Kim was just as surprised by her bars score, not believing the 9.9 belonged to her. It was a reward for a good routine, the product of some extra time in the gym.
"I've been working hard on my handstands, doing some drills to tighten them up," Kim said. "It helped me tonight. I saw my score and was like, 'That's not my score.' "
Friday was the first time she has hit a floor routine, failing to get into the lineup after falling on the event in the first two meets.
"We wanted to get Nina a hit on the floor tonight," Marsden said. "That was important for her tonight."
Baskett scored a 9.85 on the vault, 9.9 on the bars, 9.725 on the beam and 9.875 on the floor. Her bars score tied her career best, and helped the Utes set their team high for the year of 49.4 on the event.
Baskett didn't compete on the beam last week. On Friday, she took some advice from Marsden and mumbled the words of the song, "Kiss Me," that plays during her beam routine to help her relax and get through her weakest event.
"Sometimes she thinks too much," Marsden said. "We wanted to find a way for her not to have a conversation with herself in the middle of the routine."
Now in the all-around lineup, both Baskett and Kim admitted they would like to stay there.
"You want the best person out there for the team," Baskett said. "If someone does better than I am doing, they should be out there, but I'm going to work hard to be that person out there."
The hardest adjustment for freshmen to make to the collegiate level is competing every week. At the elite levels competitions are months apart, but Kim said the change went along with everything else they've experienced at the collegiate level.
"Nothing is ever easy," she said. "But it's fun."
Boise State beats Ags
Meagan Lewis and Jessica Parenti finished in a four-way tie for first on the floor with 9.750 points Friday as Utah State finished second to host Boise State.
Boise State won with a score of 193.525 while the Aggies finished second with a score of 192.225. Seattle Pacific had 188.375.
The 192.225 was the Aggies' second-lowest team score this year and brings them to 5-9 overall and 0-4 in the WAC.
* Gritt Hofmann plans to go back to her old floor routine after a disappointing score Friday night. S2
No. 2 Utah 196.65
No. 20 Minnesota 193.4
IN SHORT - The second-ranked Utes improve to 10-0 overall at home against the Gophers.
KEY STAT - Utah scored a season best 49.4 on the uneven bars, with three gymnasts earning 9.9s.
KEY MOMENT - Minnesota needed a perfect meet and a horrible one from Utah to have any shot at an upset. That scenario never came into play, as the Gophers had three falls on the bars.