April 4, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State's second scrimmage of spring practice saw positive plays on both sides of the football as the Aggies concluded their third week of spring drills with a roughly 50-play scrimmage on Merlin Olsen Field inside Romney Stadium Thursday afternoon.
Utah State's offense performed well during the first three series of the scrimmage, scoring each time it had the ball with a pair of touchdowns and a field goal. Junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton finished the scrimmage completing 8-of-13 passes for 118 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while junior running back Joe Hill had three receptions for 61 yards and one touchdown, to go along with six carries for 19 yards.
Other highlights on offense included junior tight end Keegan Andersen who caught four passes for 50 yards and sophomore wide receiver Brandon Swindall who had three receptions for 46 yards, including two touchdowns. Senior running back Joey DeMartino had a scrimmage-best nine carries for 49 yards and scored the only rushing touchdown on the day.
USU scored on its first drive of the scrimmage on a 38-yard pass from Keeton to Hill to cap a 6-play, 70-yard drive. During the drive, Hill accounted for 59 of the 70 yards as he carried the ball three times for 21 yards to go along with his 38-yard reception.
Utah State's next drive also ended in a touchdown as junior quarterback Craig Harrison connected with Swindall from 11-yards out as the No. 2 offense drove the ball 70 yards in seven plays.
The third series of the game ended in a 30-yard field goal from junior placekicker Nick Diaz as the No. 1 offense drove 47 yards in 11 plays before stalling at the 13-yardline.
Following the first three series, Utah State's defense controlled the scrimmage as it held the Aggie offense to zero points on eight of its final 10 series, including a interception by junior linebacker Zach Vigil and a blocked field goal attempt by redshirt freshman linebacker Nick Vigil.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Travis Parrish and sophomore linebacker Alex Marsaw each posted a scrimmage-best four tackles, while Parrish added three tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry, and Marsaw added a sack and a pass breakup.
In all, Utah State's defense registered six sacks and 13 tackles for loss on the day to go along with five pass breakups and five quarterback hurries, not to mention the interception and blocked field goal.
Utah State's other two touchdowns during the scrimmage came on an 11-yard run by DeMartino to cap an 8-play, 60-yard drive and on an 11-yard pass from Keeton to Swindall in a red zone series.
Utah State will continue its spring schedule next week, practicing on Monday and Wednesday from 6:15 to 8:15 a.m. and on Thursday from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. All practices are scheduled for Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium unless inclement weather pushes them to the Stan Laub Indoor Football Complex. All practice times and locations are subject to change.
Utah State will conclude spring drills on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m. with its annual Blue vs. White Spring Game, presented by Orbit Irrigation Products. Admission to the spring game is free.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
2013 Utah State Football Spring Practice Dates Mon., April 8 - 6:15 - 8:15 a.m. Wed., April 10 - 6:15 - 8:15 a.m. Thur., April 11 - 3:15 - 5:15 p.m. - Scrimmage
Mon., April 15 - 6:15 - 8:15 a.m. Wed., April 17 - 6:15 - 8:15 a.m. - No Pads Saturday, April 20 -2 p.m. - Blue vs. White Spring Game
UTAH STATE FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGE QUOTES
HEAD COACH Matt Wells
Opening thoughts on scrimmage:
"Again I think it's becoming the theme of spring, but great give and take on both sides of the ball. You see highlights on both sides, which I think is a continued mark of a good team. Hopefully in the fall that will pan out. Again, the offense started out fast and was explosive and guys were making plays. I thought up front, they did a nice job of covering people up, the offensive line did. At the very end, I thought the defense bowed up again in the red zone, especially the tight red zone and that is huge. Whether its fatigue mentally or physically on the offenses part, they have got to overcome that. The defense, I thought, strained and executed very, very well down there. There was a different energy down on that side down there and I think that is good, very similar to last year. I think that is a mark of a good defense, to force field goals and then to even block a field goal down there with the two's, when the two group was up. Offensively they have to understand when they are in the red zone you score touchdowns, you can't kick field goals and when you do kick field goals you've got to make them, you've got to come away with points. Our goal is 80 percent touchdowns in the red zone and they didn't come close to that today. Good job by the defense and a win for the defense there."
On catching the ball better today:
"Yeah, I think that was better. I think there is a little bit of a renewed focus from those guys, whether it is tight ends, backs or receivers. Sometimes we just focus on the receivers, but we throw it so much to our backs and tight ends. I thought that was pretty clean today."
On the play of Keegan Andersen:
"Keegan has continued to get better daily. His care factor is really high. He wants to be a very good player. He has had a good offseason and it continues over to the field. Keegan will play a big role for us in the fall."
On the play of Joe Hill:
"Not one thing's changed. Joe Hill is the same player day nine as he was day one, and I'm proud of him. We got a little thin at running back with some banged up guys and he had to take more reps than we really anticipated today, but he continues to impress me with his consistency."
On the play of Joey DeMartino:
"Joey has come on and Joey will have a significant role in the fall and what that is, that will be determined the rest of spring and through the summer. Joey really came on about the middle of the year in a special teams role for us last year, running down on some kick offs and some punt return and doing some things that caught our eye at the end of last year that was non running back related and a very unselfish player. I like his mindset right now."
Did you see anything different this week from last week that made you happy?
"Yeah I saw the offense finally score in a two-minute drill on Wednesday morning. That made me happy from their standpoint. I'm continually pleased with how the defense bows up in the red zone and they have done that all spring and it has carried over from last year."
JUNIOR LINEBACKER Zach Vigil
What happened on that last play when you intercepted Chuckie Keeton, he seemed upset?
"He was definitely upset when I intercepted the ball. Jake Doughty switched the call at the last second and put me in the right position to make the play."
The defense started a little bit slow, but Coach Wells said you bowed up when you had to.
"Slow start, I don't know. We've had the problem all week long. Its really, really frustrating as a defense to start that slow. It just kind of kills the vibe of everything. One thing we established last year and we are going to continue on this year, is bowing up in the red zone. That is where we really pull together as a defense and stand strong. As long as we keep doing that we will be ok, we just got to tighten things up in the middle of the field and we will be fine."
From a defensive standpoint, what have you seen out of Joe Hill this year and how impressed are you of his play?
"I tell you what, I don't like seeing Joe Hill in the open field. I had to make a tackle on him earlier and I whiffed completely and then later I got an open field tackle on him and got him, but it's not easy. He is a really good running back. He's small but his legs are strong and they don't stop. In film, we get chewed for missing him, but at the same time Joe Hill is a real good player. I am glad he is on my team."
JUNIOR RUNNING BACK Joe Hill
Thoughts on the scrimmage:
"We came out pretty strong, with high intensity and took it to the defense. We kind of slowed it down and didn't finish as well as we wanted to later on, in like the red zone and two-minute."
On being consistent through the spring and taking the No. 1 running back spot:
"I'm just trying to work hard and push the other running backs, because right now we are pretty low on running backs. We're just trying to push through and just keep grinding and trying to stay consistent. Just trying to do my job, push other people."
What did you learn from Kerwynn Williams, Robert Turbin and Michael Smith?
"I learned to just be patient. Just wait your turn. Just feed off their energy and everything they taught me - blocking and just how to run the ball. They are pretty good backs, they ended up in the NFL and Kerwynn is next."
On getting more reps today than the coaches had anticipated:
"I am just trying to work hard and just do my best. The faster we score, the faster we get off. That is what the linemen want, score so they can take a break."
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