Aug. 3, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State's football team held its first official practice of the 2012 season Friday afternoon as 104 players participated in the two-hour work out on the USU practice fields. Among the group were 19 returning starters (8-offense; 6-defense; 5-special teams) and 45 returning lettermen (19-offense; 20-defense; 6-special teams), including 19 seniors.
After the players worked out in helmets, practice jerseys and shorts, fourth-year Aggie head coach Gary Andersen was pleased with the team's energy and effort on the first day.
"I thought it was a good start, a lot of energy, which you would expect," said Andersen. "We got to look at a lot of things and I'm excited to go inside and look at the film. I thought we competed, had a lot of energy and a lot of excitement, and again that is to be expected on the first day. As is the case with everyone in the country right now, we have a long ways to go, but we will evaluate today's practice, come out tomorrow and kind of do the same thing as we did today."
Junior safety Cameron Sanders provided the opening day highlights with a pair of interceptions, while a pair of freshmen also caught Andersen's attention in wide receiver Bruce Natson and running back Kelvin Lee. Andersen also commented on the team's off-season conditioning program and the benefits he saw from that during the first practice.
"The players appear to be in good shape, and it looks like they did a nice job in the summer of preparing their bodies. It looks like we are where we left off after spring ball from a conditioning standpoint, which is a huge positive, and some guys have gained some weight and gotten bigger and stronger," added Andersen.
Friday was the first of 29 practices for Utah State leading up to its season-opener at home against Southern Utah on Thursday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m.
As part of the NCAA's five-day "acclimatization period," the Aggies will again be in shorts and helmets Saturday and will add shoulder pads on Monday. USU's first practice in full pads will be on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and the first two-a-day is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 9. All practices next week will be held on the USU practice field leading up to its first scrimmage, which will be held on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 10 a.m.
For the first time since 1996, the Aggies will open a season with back-to-back home games, hosting a pair of in-state foes in Southern Utah on Thursday, Aug. 30 and Utah on Friday, Sept. 7. Both games are slated for 6 p.m. (MT) starts from Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. The Aggies' game against Utah will be on ESPN2.
Season tickets and two-game packages can be purchased in person at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Fans can also buy tickets over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1, or online at www.utahstateaggies.com/tickets.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on the USU football blog at usufootball.wordpress.com. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
All practices during fall camp, which concludes on Saturday, Aug. 25, are open to the public.
Utah State Football Practice Dates, Times and Location Sat., Aug. 4 --- 2:15 - 4:15 pm (Practice Field) Mon., Aug. 6 --- 2:15 - 4:15 pm (Practice Field) Tues., Aug. 7 --- 2:15 - 4:15 pm (Practice Field) Wed., Aug. 8 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am (Practice Field) Thur., Aug. 9 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am / 4:55 - 6:25 pm (Practice Field) --- First Two-A-Day Fri., Aug. 10 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am (Practice Field) Sat., Aug. 11 --- 10:00 - 11:30 am (Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium) --- Scrimmage #1 Mon., Aug. 13 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am / 4:55 - 6:25 pm (Practice Field) Tues., Aug. 14 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am (Practice Field) Wed., Aug. 15 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am / 4:55 - 6:25 pm (Practice Field) Thur., Aug. 16 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am (Practice Field) Fri., Aug. 17 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am / 4:55 - 6:25 pm (Practice Field) Sat., Aug. 18 --- 2:00 pm FOOTBALL FAMILY FUN DAY, sponsored by Macy's (Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium) --- Scrimmage #2 Mon., Aug. 20 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am / 3:55 - 5:25 pm (Practice Field) Tues., Aug. 21 --- 2:40 - 4:40 pm (Practice Field) Wed., Aug. 22 --- 9:15 - 11:15 am / 3:55 - 5:25 pm (Practice Field) Thur., Aug. 23 --- 2:40 - 4:40 pm (Practice Field) Fri., Aug. 24 --- 2:40 - 4:40 pm (Practice Field) Sat., Aug. 25 --- 12:00 - 2:00 pm (Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium) End of Camp NOTE: All dates, times and locations subject to change.
QUOTES FROM THE FIRST DAY OF UTAH STATE FOOTBALL PRACTICE
Head Coach Gary Andersen
Did anybody standout today?
"I thought our alignment and assignment was pretty good on the front seven on the offense and defense. I thought both of our quarterbacks (Chuckie Keeton and Adam Kennedy) kind of threw the ball average, so that's not a positive. Bruce Natson, a freshman, made a couple of nice catches. I thought Kelvin Lee caught my eye a couple of times in a good way running the football, and also in a bad way with two fumbles. Fumble twice in one day and you'll never play a snap. Overall, it was a solid day. I'm too critical on day one, but that's okay."
On junior safety Cameron Sanders play with two interceptions:
"Cameron had a couple of picks back there, the one kind of fell into his lap, but you're in the right place at the right time. The other one was a nice play by him. Bottom line is he made two plays and got two picks."
Sophomore Quarterback Chuckie Keeton
Thoughts on the first practice:
"We came out with some pretty good energy today, we just weren't as crisp as we wanted to be. With that being said we can only go up from here. Our new guys showed what they can do, just being in a team atmosphere, so it was good to see that. The guys that were here this summer are starting to get a grasp of the offense, we just have some more work to do."
Any highlights today:
"Sadly, I felt the biggest highlights were the two picks by the defense. That means we just have to take care of the ball a little bit better."
On how you threw the ball today:
"I threw the ball okay. I didn't do as well in the drills as I wanted to. It's just some fundamentals that we have to work on and look at in film and just tweak it tomorrow and just keep getting better. The biggest thing I think was just coming out and getting the timing with the receivers against the defense for the first time, and we snuck in a few balls so that was a good thing."
Thoughts on wide receiver Bruce Natson:
"I felt he did a good job today. It's just him being consistent, knowing the plays and knowing the depth of his routes and what he needs to do, but he's got some talent."
Thoughts on the receiving group as a whole:
"Its definitely great to see all the talent we have at receiver. We have Chuck Jacobs and Matt Austin returning along with Travis Reynolds. We also add the two junior college guys in Dwayne Lorick and Alex Wheat, Jr., and we have Bruce Natson as well. They are going to be big assets to us if they continue to improve."
Senior Safety McKade Brady:
Thoughts on the first practice:
"I thought we had a good effort. There were a lot of mental errors, but that's going to happen on the first day, we just have to get into the film room and correct those. As long as we get better and have consistent effort I think we will be alright."
Thoughts on Cameron Sander's play:
"Cameron did great today, obviously with the two interceptions. I thought he did a really good job assignment wise, I didn't see him miss any assignments, so he did really well."
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