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LOGAN -- Utah State football completed the NCAA-mandated five-day acclimation period Tuesday, donning full pads for the first time during practice, held on the practice field for the second day.
"I thought we had some good competition today. There were plays made on offense and plays made on defense, so those were big positives for us," head coach Gary Andersen said. "If there were negatives today, I would say that we came out and started a bit slow. I think we competed hard and got better on both sides of the ball today. Like I always say, I need to see the film to get a true feeling of what took place."
After five days of single practices, Utah State has its first two-a-day practice on Wednesday.
"It's always a tough part of camp. The difference between pads and no pads is very minute, but there's a noticeable difference going to two-a-days. We'll be able to get into some live situations and start to tackle much more, which is the number one component of playing good defense. We'll also start to get the coaches off the field so the kids can communicate and adjust on their own."
Andersen and the Aggies return a WAC-leading 19 total starters, including a conference-best 10 on offense, as well as seven on defense and two kickers. Those 19 starters are part of 48 returning lettermen from last season's 3-9 team.
Last year was the first time since 2005 that the Aggies had three wins in a season and USU's 3-5 WAC record was its best in its four seasons in the league. It was also the first time since 2003 that USU has won three conference games and just the third time in the 2000's (2000: 4-1 Big West; 2003: 3-4 Big West; 2008: 3-5 WAC).
The Aggies open the 2009 season against Utah on Thursday, Sept. 3. After a bye and a road game at Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 19, USU hosts in-state foe Southern Utah in the Aggies' home opener on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.