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Press ReleaseLOGAN -- Improvements on both sides of the ball were the most noticeable thing about Utah State's closed football scrimmage Tuesday morning at Romney Stadium.
Aggie head coach Gary Andersen was pleased with how his squad performed Tuesday, showing progress from last Thursday's scrimmage.
"We came out and competed well today," Andersen said. "We took a step forward, especially on the offensive side today. Last scrimmage, the defense did a very nice job and I thought today, offense came back and reacted. The defense made some plays, especially at the back end of the scrimmage. I thought the offense ran the ball pretty darn well, just the initial reaction from watching it on the field."
The offense amassed 653 yards of offense Tuesday, led by junior quarterback Diondre Borel's 148 yards passing with a TD, while freshman Kane Wilson had 100 yards passing. Three running backs combined for 176 yards with sophomore running back Robert Turbin going for 74 yards while junior Michael Smith and freshman Kerwynn Williams had 51 yards each. Sophomore wide receiver Stanley Morrison had 70 receiving yards while senior wide receiver Nnamdi Gwacham tallied 50 yards.
"Diondre (Borel) did some very nice things today, he's got a lot of offense and a very complex defense staring him in the face, and I think he did a nice job today making the adjustments. The number one offensive line, as a whole, did a very nice job creating holes in run blocking, so I'd have to say those guys jumped out at me. The running backs were very solid today," Andersen said.
The defense was led by senior safety James Brindley with an interception, a pass break-up and a forced fumble. Freshman cornerback Quinton Byrd added three pass break-ups, while senior cornerback Kejon Murphy notched a pair of pass break-ups.
"The scrimmage went well. Guys did better on their assignments. We've just got to get better and fix the missed tackles. For the most part, the offense just needs to play catch, while defensively, the big part is just making tackles," Murphy said.
Four different players posted sacks while four others registered tackles for loss. In addition to Brindley's interception, senior linebacker Paul Igboeli also snared an oskie.
"On defense, there was some give-and-take, we were able to get a couple turnovers. I thought they ran to the ball better and tackled better today, but not quite good enough to where we need to be," Andersen said.
Both sides of the ball had their bright spots, as well as things to work on.
"I thought it went really well," senior center Brennan McFadden said. "Both offense and defense made some plays and that's what we need to see in scrimmages. It can't be one-sided and it wasn't today. We're looking for offense to make plays and defense to make plays, that's what we're looking for in a scrimmage and that's what we got today."
Tuesday's scrimmage was part of the last week of training camp, crescendoing with Saturday's final scrimmage.
"We got better in some things, but we still have plenty of things we need to clean up," said Andersen about this week's preparations.
USU's final scrimmage of the fall will be in association with Utah State Aggie Football Family Fun Day, sponsored by Macey's Foods, and will be held on Saturday, August 22 at Romney Stadium. The event provides fans a chance to meet USU football players and coaches, participate in games and activities as well as purchase season tickets.
Activities sponsored by Macey's Foods will begin at 12 p.m., on the South Concourse of Romney Stadium. USU's football scrimmage gets underway at 1 p.m.
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.
For season and single-game ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
USU Football Practice Dates, Times and Locations
(Practices' "openness" are subject to change)
- Wed., Aug. 19 - 9-10:45 a.m. / 5-6:30 p.m. - Practice Field
- Thurs., Aug. 20 - 9-11 a.m. - Practice Field
- Fri., Aug. 21 - 9-10:45 a.m. / 5-6:30 p.m. - Practice Field
- Sat., Aug. 22 - 1 p.m. ** Scrimmage and Aggie Football Family Fun Day - Romney Stadium
(Courtesy USU Athletic Department)