LOGAN, Utah – Utah State held its third and final scrimmage of fall camp Saturday evening on Merlin Olsen Field inside Romney Stadium as part of Aggie Football Family Fun Day, sponsored by Macey’s. In all, first-year head coach Matt Wells ran his team through roughly 70 plays, which included special teams, red zone and two-minute situations in front of an estimated 8,000 fans.
“I think the turnout is just a reflection of where we’re at and the excitement of going into the Mountain West Conference and the young men we’ve got in the program,” said Wells. “It’s what we want every time we do something like this and reach out to the community. They wrap their arms around our players. Hopefully our program is a reflection of this community and the hard working, blue-collar people they are.”
Aggie Football Family Fun Day started at 2 p.m. with youth football games and there were activities on the concourse, including sales by Locker 42, along with games for fans of all ages, and fans could also purchase season tickets. After the scrimmage, fans were allowed on the field to meet and get autographs from USU football players and coaches, as well as participate in games and activities.
Utah State began the evening working on special teams and 7-on-7 drills before its live scrimmage.
Once the scrimmage started, Utah State’s defense recorded back-to-back-to-back three-and-outs. After that, however, USU’s offense scored on eight of its final 10 drives with four touchdowns and four field goals.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Manning scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage on a 36-yard run to cap a 9-play, 75-yard drive. In all, Manning had a team-high 30 rushing yards on six carries while also completing 5-of-13 passes for 43 yards.
Freshman running back Kennedy Williams scored the second touchdown of the scrimmage on the next drive from 4 yards to cap a 7-play, 65-yard drive.
Following a 28-yard field goal from freshman placekicker Jake Thompson, freshman wide receiver Braelon Roberts recorded his first of two touchdowns on the night as he caught an 8-yard pass from freshman quarterback Darell Garretson to cap an 11-play, 50-yard drive. Roberts also caught a 30-yard scoring strike from junior quarterback Craig Harrison and finished the scrimmage with three receptions for 62 yards with two scores.
Garretson threw for 122 yards on 9-of-11 passing with one touchdown during the scrimmage, while Harrison was 7-of-10 passing for 83 yards and one touchdown.
Utah State’s other three scores came on a pair of 34-yard field goals by senior placekicker Josh Thompson and on a 29-yard field goal by senior placekicker Nick Diaz.
Defensive highlights included an interception by senior safety Cameron Sanders, while junior cornerback Rashard Stewart had four pass breakups. Junior linebacker Tavaris McMillian led all players with five tackles, while fellow junior linebacker Keylon Hollis had two tackles for loss including one sack as part of his three stops.
Utah State will conclude its final week of fall camp with two practices on the USU practice field on Monday and Thursday, to go along with single practices on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, which is the last day of camp. All practices during fall camp, which concludes on Saturday, Aug. 24, are open to the public.
Utah State, who is entering its first season in the Mountain West after spending the past eight years in the WAC, will open the 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29 at Utah and play its first Mountain West game the following weekend at Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 7. USU’s first home game of the 2013 campaign will be on Saturday, Sept. 14 against Weber State, while its first home Mountain West game will be on Saturday, Oct. 12 against Boise State.
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.
Utah State Football Practice Dates, Times and Location
Mon., Aug. 19 — 9:15 – 11:15 a.m./3:55 – 5:25 p.m. (Practice Field)
Tues., Aug. 20 — 2:40 – 4:40 p.m. (Practice Field)
Wed., Aug. 21 — 2:40 – 4:40 p.m. (Practice Field)
Thur., Aug. 22 — 9:15 – 11:15 a.m. / 3:55 – 5:25 pm (Practice Field)
Fri., Aug. 23 — 2:40 – 4:40 p.m. (Practice Field)
Sat., Aug. 24 — 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Romney Stadium)
End of Camp
NOTE: All dates, times and locations subject to change.
Utah State Football Scrimmage Quotes
<strong>Head Coach Matt Wells</strong>
On the young quarterbacks’ play:
“I think there are some bright spots with each of them. The bar has been set so high and we have high expectations for them. It’s a hard offense to play in with all the protections and tempos that we have. I thought those guys handled themselves pretty well at times. It’s not perfect, and it wasn’t pretty at times, but there were some good moments and they threw some good balls. We’ll go back tonight and look at it, break it down, and study it to see where we’re at.”
On who stood out and made a final push for playing time:
“The one that stands out to me who’s got himself right where he needs to be as a position is Kennedy Williams. It’s practice 18 and he’s practicing just like he did on day one. I’ve been impressed with him in his special teams work and at running back. We’ll see how things go, but that’s one that catches my eye.”
On Braelon Roberts:
“Braelon made a couple nice catches. He’s come in as a kid that’s had a long, hard road to get here. I’m proud of him. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s making progress.”
On the depth of the offensive line:
“I don’t think we’re ever satisfied, but we’ve got good depth there. The decisions tonight and tomorrow will be who’s the next guard in, who’s the next tackle and all those combos you make to put the best five out there if we have any injuries.”
On special teams playing tonight and kicking into the wind:
“I don’t think we missed a field goal. It was swirling a little bit. It wasn’t just into the wind, it switched a couple times too. They drilled it pretty good. That’s another good competition there. There’s a competition for the kickoff job between Jaron (Bentrude) and Jake (Thompson). This is as strong a kicking situation as I’ve seen since I’ve been here. I’m proud of all them.”
On the urgency of the team heading into the Utah game:
“I think there’s urgency in the program whether we’re playing Utah or anybody else. We’ve been focusing so much on ourselves for the first 18 days. They happen to be first on the schedule. We’ll start turning our focus and attention to them and who we’re playing with. There’s a sense of urgency in this program and there has been since I walked in here. We practice fast and everything we do is fast. I think we have a sense of urgency at all times here.”
<strong>Junior Quarterback Craig Harrison</strong>
Opening statement on the scrimmage:
“The scrimmage went really well. I thought we were explosive on offense, which is good. You’ve got to have explosive plays. We were able to put the ball down the field. Obviously, we need to clean up some penalties, be a little bit better on third down, but overall it felt like we were able to compete and get down the field. That’s what Utah State offense is all about is putting the ball down the field.”
Do you feel like you’ve done enough to be the backup guy this year?
“Yeah, I do. Today was a big day. The coaches warned us going in that it was a big competition day and I feel like I was able to come out and do exactly what they wanted me to do; run the tempo of the offense and put the ball down the field, which is very key.”
Talk about your touchdown pass to Braelon Roberts:
“The coaches are big on the red zone and not taking sacks and putting yourself in a bad situation. They gave me a chance with the play call to put the ball down the field and I trusted him. He got a good matchup and went up and made a play on the ball, which is important.”
Was there anyone at another position that you feel like really stepped up today?
“The second O-line really stepped up. We are pretty solid with the ones on the O-line, but I feel like the twos gave us a lot of time and a lot of protection. We need to run the ball a little bit better, but overall I felt like they protected well, which made it easy for us as quarterbacks.”
What did you see out of Jeff (Manning) and Darell (Garretson) today?
“They both played really well. It was fun to be in the competition and have us all play really well. I know it puts the coaches in a tough position, but it also makes the team better.”
<strong>Senior Safety Cameron Sanders</strong>
Opening statement on the scrimmage:
“There was a lot of big plays to be made today for the twos, ones and threes. We did a lot of flying around, a lot of form tackling and made big plays, so I want to thank the defense for that.”
On your interception:
“We’ve been struggling on the safety side of getting back and reading the quarterback and getting our bodies in position to pick the ball. I was in dime and it was a vertical hook, so I just looked back, read the quarterback and kept coming back, and the ball just came to me.”
On the offense’s explosive plays:
“The offense did pretty good throughout the whole camp running the ball as well as throwing, so we were expecting them to make big plays. Some guys on the offensive side stepped up today so it was pretty good.”
Was there any extra intensity today with some people battling for jobs?
“Yeah, the coaches were on us this whole week asking a lot of us to step up. It was a big day for a lot of us. They just needed to evaluate us, see what we’ve got and see what spots we need help on with more depth and stuff like that.”
There was a big crowd here today for Aggie Family Fun Day. What does it mean to you to see all these people come out?
“We expected to have a big crowd today. Everybody wanted to come out and see what we’ve got and how we look for this year, and we just wanted to give them a show. Coach Wells said we’ve got to take care of each other and stuff like that so we made sure we hit each other the right way, help each other up and go for the next play.”
How are you dealing with the anticipation for your final season?
“I’m feeling pretty good. It’s my senior year so I’ve got to give it my all. Every day is basically just about confidence. Once you know your plays and stuff like that, just come to practice with confidence everyday and you’ll do fine.”