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USU's Andersen recognizes first game pressure



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LOGAN -- New Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen readily admits the first game of this 2009 season is unlike any other.

Not only will he lead a Division I team onto the field for the first time, but he has to do it against the team he helped coach for the past 11 years.

"It's obviously very interesting. A lot of emotions [at the University of Utah] having recruited and spent a lot of time with those kids. I had a whole bunch of success with them," Anderson recounts. "It's going to be a little bit different, but we understand we are playing, in my opinion, one of the best teams in college football and I think they'll be a powerhouse again this year."

But it is that understanding that drives Andersen and his goals for this Utah State program.

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"We understand that right now there are two tremendous football programs in the state with a ton of tradition, in Utah and BYU and our goal is to obviously get to that point someday."

Andersen has made significant changes to the Aggie football program since arriving earlier this year.

In Monday's teleconference with the media, Andersen mentioned he has moved 15 offensive players to the defensive side of the ball "in order to play the type of defense we want to play."

He says he's pleased with his team's progress, saying players have moved in to the "second level," meaning they are now understanding the details of the offense, defense and special teams.

"I'm pleased with the way the kids have worked. Their work ethic has been very, very good and they've adjusted to what we have asked them to do. We've had a quality summer.

When asked if he can take anything away from his experience as the head coach of Southern Utah University, Andersen quickly answered, "Yes, making sure we go in and relax."

He then expanded, "My goal is to make sure I walk in there as a head football coach and that we walk in there as a football team with the ability to be loose, be able to go play and at the end of the day have fun playing football. I think I need to do a great job of stressing that this week upon the kids, that we go in and execute and take care of our business and have fun in the end.

"I've told these kids the last 2 or 3 weeks, it's not really who we are playing in this first game. A lot of times your biggest enemy in your first football game is simply yourself with turnovers, not tackling well, not handling substitutions, making sure as a staff you put kids in positions where they are successful and I think that is the key walking into the first game."

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