Aggies solid on both sides of the football

August 21, 2016

A year ago at this time, Utah State’s defense typically got the best of its offensive counterparts when the two units scrimmaged during fall camp.

The Aggie offense and defense took turns making solid plays during the team’s final scrimmage of fall camp, which was held in conjunction with Aggie Football Fun Day on Saturday evening at Maverik Stadium.

“We played well as an offense as a whole, and so did the defense,” USU starting quarterback Kent Myers said. “I think we could have scored a little bit more and made some more field goals. When we’re in the red zone we’ve got to score, and that’s the thing we have to (work on).”

The Aggies marched the ball down the field quite consistently, especially when the first-string offense was matched up against the second-string defense, and especially during the first half of the scrimmage. On the flip side, USU’s offense struggled to convert lenghty drives into touchdowns.

The Aggies only found paydirt twice during the roughly 90-play scrimmage, but did kick several field goals. Dominik Eberle, Jake Thompson and Brock Warren booted a few field goals apiece, but all three of them had at least two unsuccessful attempts.

“I thought the No. 1 D played well, I thought the No. 1 offense ran the ball very, very well (and) I thought Kent threw it well,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “I think the biggest thing for me that sticks out is I want us to be so much better in the red zone just in terms of touchdowns, and we’ve got to learn how to make red zone field goals. But I thought it was a good performance by the No. 1 O and the No. 1 D, and towards the end it was No. 1 O (vs. the) No. 1 D, and I thought there was some good stuff there.”

Indeed, Myers stood out Saturday as he completed 11 of 14 passes for 142 yards. During the first possession of the scrimmage, Myers and the USU offense capped off a 10-play, 65-yard drive in impressive fashion. Tailback Devante Mays powered his way into the end zone from 6 yards out.

“I think there was like one or two things I could have done better in my reads, but other than that I feel like I hit all the throws I could have hit,” Myers said.

The Aggies scored their other touchdown on the first play of a red zone scenario. True freshman Jordan Love found tight end Landon Horne over the middle of the field for a 12-yard score.

USU’s five quarterbacks combined to go 28 for 42 for 288 yards and one interception. That pick was snared by former Logan High standout Chasen Andersen, who expertly sniffed out a Damion Hobbs pass.

Although there was just the one INT, the Aggies’ secondary made a handful of big plays. Defensive backs Dallin Leavitt, Devin Centers, Marquan Ellison, Wesley Bailey and Jay Brown all batted away passes, with Leavitt and Centers breaking up potential touchdowns. Centers showed his versatility by lining up as a free safety and cornerback during the scrimmage.

“We’re deep back there,” Wells said of the secondary.

Two true freshmen who have made a lot of noise this summer are wide receiver Rayshad Lewis and linebacker Justus Te’i, and both showed their mettle Saturday. Lewis finished with four receptions for 65 yards, while Te’i matched three teammates for top honors with four tackles.

“If we played (a game) today, those two freshman would be absolutely playing,” Wells proclaimed.

Wells also sang the praises of another inexperienced player at the Division I level in likely starting right guard Jude Hockel. The junior college transfer competed in five games last season, mostly with the special teams unit.

“Jude Hockel’s had a really good camp, probably been the surprise of the O-line in the camp,” Wells said.

Nose guard Travis Seefeldt and linebackers Dalton Baker and Leki Uasike matched Te’i with four stops.

“We played pretty well today, (but) we’re not where we want to be,” Seefeldt said. “We’re still flying around, the effort’s good. I think the D-line played at (the level) we want to be, (and) the back end proved to us once again that they’re going to be making plays.”

Mays led all USU rushers with 43 yards on 10 carries.

Hobbs quarterbacked the Aggies in arguably their most impressive possession of the scrimmage. USU started at its own goal line and methodically advanced the ball 64 yards in 18 plays. However, the Aggies had to settle for a 45-yard field goal and the initial attempt was no good.

Wells disclosed some bad news after the scrimmage when he said junior offensive lineman Jarome Ioane would miss the season with a lower leg injury. Ioane was listed on USU’s fall camp depth chart as the No. 2 guy at the center and right guard spots.

“I feel bad for that kid,” Wells said.