Aggies Exhibit Continued Progress In Saturday's Scrimmage
April 17, 2010
LOGAN, Utah - Progress continued to be made by the Utah State football team, which conducted its second scrimmage of the spring Saturday afternoon at a sunbathed Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. Saturday's scrimmage capped a full day of action as USU also hosted Junior Day in addition to guest coach LaVell Edwards, a USU alum and BYU coaching legend.
"Coach Edwards comes to visit and we hosted a large group for Junior Day with a large group of about 170, with parents and young men," USU head coach Gary Andersen said. "It was a spectacular day for USU football all the way around."
Edwards spent some time with the players and coaches before the scrimmage and spoke to the team at the completion of the scrimmage.
"Coming into the valley here, there's always something special about it. It was a great ride for Patty and I to be up here," said Edwards, who was joined by his wife Saturday.
Edwards graduated from Utah State University in 1952. He was a three-year football letter-winner for the Aggies in 1949, `50 and `51 and was named to the school's All-Century team as a linebacker in 1993. Edwards was also an all-Mountain States Conference selection as a halfback in 1950.
Edwards coached Brigham Young University for 29 seasons from 1972-2000 and his 257 wins rank sixth all-time among Division I coaches. His accomplishments at BYU include winning the national championship in 1984, being named the national coach of the year in 1979 and 1984, earning seven WAC Coach of the Year honors, leading the Cougars to 21 bowl games, coaching a Heisman Trophy winner and two Outland Trophy winners.
"I was very impressed with the enthusiasm these guys had today. That was a long practice. That was a lot of contact and a lot of hitting. Both offensively and defensively, I think it's going to be a good ball club," Edwards said.
Edwards was impressed with the Aggies' head coach, as well as Saturday's action.
"I've known Gary for 20 years or so. I've always admired his work, and I thought when they hired him up here, that I just thought it was a great hire. I was just tremendously impressed with their enthusiasm and their attitude and the way they worked today," Edwards said.
Junior Day is designed for high school juniors and their parents to tour the USU campus and athletic facilities, meet with admissions officials and get an early look at what makes Utah State such a unique and exciting university. It was also a great opportunity to meet and interact with the Aggie coaching staff along with University and Athletic Department representatives.
The event included a complete tour of the Jim and Carol Laub Athletics-Academics Complex, including the locker room, equipment room and meeting rooms, as well as the athletic training facilities and the student-athlete academic services area. Participants also went on a complete campus tour, seeing classrooms, campus housing, dining service areas, along with meeting with USU admissions and housing officials.
Following the meetings and tours, the juniors and their parents joined the large number of Aggie fans in watching the scrimmage, as Andersen and his staff put the USU squad through game-type situations.
"If you look the one thing I think shows up, which to me is a good sign, is when the one's are out there on either side of the football there is a noticeable speed difference between the one's and the two's. That's what we're all about on offense, and that's where we have to get on defense to be able to play the way we want to play," Andersen said.
One of the Aggies who exhibited noticeable speed on Saturday was senior cornerback Chris Randle, who had two interceptions, including a 40-yard return for a TD.
Randle's picks were part of the five turnovers by the USU defense, which contained the offense for the majority of the scrimmage, yielding scores in the short field situations. Sophomore running back scored two short-yardage TD's while junior running back Derrvin Speight scored three times. Williams ended the day with 59 yards on 11 carries while Speight had 44 yards on 12 rushes.
Other defensive highlights included two sacks as part of six tackles by senior defensive end Maxim Dinka Mba. The USU defense had a total of eight sacks on the day. Junior linebacker Kyle Gallagher and junior safety Gavin Jones matched Dinka Mba with six stops apiece, while junior safety Walter McClenton snared an interception and had a pass break-up
Williams and Speight's stellar afternoons were joined on the offensive side by junior wide receiver Matt Austin's four catches for 79 yards while fellow junior wide receiver Xavier Martin, who had a 28-yard reception for a TD.
USU's special teams highlights included a 73-yard kick return by Williams, while senior punter/placekicker Peter Caldwell had a 40.3 yards per punt average and was 10-of-11 on field goals, booting a long of 52-yards that kissed off the right upright on its way through. Caldwell returned to action Thursday after being away from the team for a week for family reasons.
The Aggies wrap up spring practice this week, culminating spring camp with the Blue-White Spring Game, next Saturday, April 24 at 2 p.m. at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium.
Utah State will return 45 letterwinners (21 offense, 22 defense, two special teams), including 19 starters (eight offense, nine defense, two special teams), from last season's 4-8 mark, the Aggies' most wins since 2002. Utah State was 3-5 in WAC action, matching the 2008 season for top conference record in USU's five years in the league. The Aggies were tied for fifth in the final league standings, USU's highest-ever finish in its time in the conference and the best league finish since tying for fourth in the Sun Belt Conference in 2004.
Aggie football season ticket renewal applications have been mailed out. Fans can also renew online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the "buy/renew tickets" under the "tickets" drop down menu.
For more 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.