Spring Wrap: Utah State Aggies
By Ken Pomponio
Spring drills have hit the finish line in the Mountain West Conference with all 12 squads having put the wraps on their allotted 15 practices.
Here’s a glance at how the spring went for MWC newcomer Utah State, which is coming off an 11-2 championship season in the Western Athletic Conference:
- With a new coach (former offensive coordinator Matt Wells) and a new conference, the spring had a different vibe in Logan. The Aggies, though, still are hoping to pick up where they left off, and with 49 letterwinners and 17 starters back – including nine who earned first- or second-team All-WAC honors a year ago – the program is well-equipped to do just that.
- Among the few starters not returning is tailback Kerwynn Williams, the WAC’s 2012 rushing leader who was a seventh-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL Draft. Much to the Aggies’ delight, though, junior-to-be Joe Hill and senior Joey DeMartino, whose 2012 contributions mainly were limited to special teams, both had solid, if not strong, springs and there is considerably less concern about the running game than there was a month ago.
- One of Wells’ spring goals was to see more plays made by the defense – and the secondary in particular – after the Aggies finished with a somewhat-stunning minus-1 turnover differential that belied the program’s success a year ago. Up against the experienced USU offense, the big plays and turnovers were slow in coming most of the spring, but the Aggies D did finish with a flourish with seven sacks and three turnovers in the spring game, perhaps a harbinger for fall camp and the season to follow.
- With all five starters back, including a trio of all-conference selections led by senior center Tyler Larsen, the Utah State offensive line is expected to be formidable, if not dominant. It didn’t always play out that way in the spring. Wells attributed most of it to a lack of continuity. The unit went through a good deal of planned personnel shuffling up front in the spring game, but the coach and Aggies backers are counting on any hiccups pulling a quick disappearing act come August.
- Despite the defense’s 59-39 triumph over the offense, DeMartino turned heads with 100 rushing yards on 16 carries.
- Keeton finished 15-of-29 for 103 yards and a TD and guided the offense’s lone touchdown drive.
- Redshirt freshman linebacker Nick Vigil had a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery which he nearly took the house.
- Rising senior cornerback Tay Glover-Wright had a team-high six tackles and an interception.
There’s no early-season break for USU, which kicks off Aug. 29 at in-state rival and Pac-12 member Utah only 12 days before visiting Air Force in the first conference game of the MWC season.