Aug. 13, 2005
LOGAN, Utah - After two days in helmets and shorts and two days with shoulder pads, the Utah State football team wrapped up its first week of practice on Saturday. The Aggies will don full pads for the first time on Sunday.
Both of USU's offensive and defensive coordinators have been pleased with what they have seen in the early sessions.
"I really think that we have gotten better each day," said offensive coordinator Mike Santiago. "You can see improvements, not just from individuals, but from groups, every day. We are learning."
Head Coach Brent Guy has been perfectly clear on his main areas of emphasis of improvement since taking over the program. He wants the Aggies to be able to run the ball better, stop the run and win the turnover margin. The Aggies practice fumble drills at the end of each practice.
Meanwhile the offense is forced to run the hill south of the practice field after turnovers in practice. Santiago sees improvement on his side of the ball.
"We are learning to protect the football," he said. "We are throwing and catching pretty well. We still need some work on pass protection. The running game really took some strides today (Saturday). It has been a really good four days, but we will see tomorrow (Sunday) when we put full pads on and let them bang around a little bit."
Defensively Mark Johnson has been installing a lot of the 4-3 defense USU will run this year after the Aggies were lined up in a 3-4 front the past two seasons.
"I think we are making good progress," Johnson said Saturday. "We are throwing a lot at them. We are flooding their carburetors a little bit. We will get to the point where we are not thinking and just playing, but right now we are thinking a little bit too much and not playing as freely as we would like."
Johnson pointed out they will be installing different parts of the defense every day and then face an interesting challenge in opening the season against a triple option football team in Nicholls State. Most of the season the Aggies face conventional passing teams. Until game week, though USU will focus on getting its defense better.
"Some of our base stuff we are good at and doing well," Johnson said. "I was super pleased when we came back (from spring) and the way the guys adjusted and bounced around to the formations and alignments. They did a great job with that and now we have added some things to it so everybody short circuits a little bit, but we will be fine."
After Sunday, the Aggies will begin alternating two-a-day practices, with two workouts scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday and one-day practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Utah State will open its 2005 season hosting Nicholls State on Sept. 3 at 1:05 p.m. Season tickets for USU's six-game home schedule are available through USU's website at www.UtahStateAggies.com, by calling 1-888-U-STATE-1 or (435) 797-0305, or in person at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Ticket Office.
The Aggies are entering their first year in the Western Athletic Conference and will host home conference games against Boise State, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, and San Jose State as well as non-conference games against Nicholls State and UNLV in Romney Stadium.
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