Utah State returns much of its core, but must fill gaps in the secondary
The Aggies played half a scrimmage Saturday before switching to 1-on-1 drills
Key takeaways from Utah State’s spring game
Utah State football’s annual spring game managed to find just the right window Saturday afternoon to play between rain showers. Team white and team blue faced off for a 57-play “half scrimmage” before treating the crowd to some festivities, including (but not limited to):
— 7-on-7 passing drills
— 1-on-1 drills for all position groups
— New USU head basketball coach Craig Smith attempting to kick a field goal (bad) and fielding a punt (good!)
A fun afternoon of football preceding a much-too- long summer offseason gave the Aggie faithful the following small insights into what’s in store this fall. Utah State won’t take the field again until its date in East Lansing at the end of August.
Ron’quavion Tarver and Dax Raymond need the ball
Utah State’s senior wideout Tarver boasts a size advantage over nearly every DB he matches up against, but never seems to be the offense’s primary focus. No doubt Aggie OC David Yost does his best to keep a defense on its toes, but sometimes you’ve just got to throw it up to your big guy and give him a chance to be special. Tarver caught five passes for 76 yards and the only touchdown of the day, a
nd is likely the only guy in USU’s WR group who fits the “when he’s covered, he’s open” label. Sure, avoiding being one-dimensional is important, but if one dimension of your game is unguardable maybe consider feeding it a steady diet of touchdowns and see if that doesn’t open up the rest of the offense.
TE Dax Raymond enjoyed a decent freshman campaign limited only by quarterback changes and playcalling. Raymond could be an all-conference level player if the Aggie offense elects to look his way more often. Perhaps hitting him over the middle on those third-and-fives instead of punching it up the gut on the ground for no gain is a place to start.
Gerold Bright is an intriguing RB option
The Aggies are once again left without an obvious choice for lead running back this fall. The committee consists of familiar faces Justin Hervey and Eltoro Allen, as well as new addition Darwin Thompson (who had 17 yards on three carries Saturday). Bright, typically a receiver has seen more usage out of the backfield lately and appears to have the speed necessary to get the edge on defenders.
Bright gives Utah State some versatility in the running game, and with do-it-all speedster Jordan Nathan completing a solid freshman season, Bright may be able to contribute more to the backfield than the slot.
Utah State’s defensive depth is impressive
The defense has been this team’s most consistent positive attribute for something like seven or eight seasons now. This group will be no different — despite losing All-American CB Jalen Davis and team captain Dallin Leavitt, Utah State’s secondary will still be a force in the Mountain West.
Ja’Marcus Ingram will likely take Davis’ starting role at CB, and coaches will surely find a way to get Cameron Haney reps after several good stints last year filling in for banged-up players. Safeties Gaje Ferguson and Baron Gajkowski also saw significant playing time last year, and either could fill Leavitt’s role as a ball-hawking, run-stopping, sideline-hyping combo.
Jordan Love is still the quarterback
Coach Wells will start the best quarterback available, as he proved last year with a mid-season switch at QB, so Love’s previous starts might not weigh into the starting spot as much as people think. However, Jordan Love has given no warning signs that he isn’t the guy moving forward. He appears in control of the offense and aware in the pocket — plus he’s still got a nice deep ball when the situation calls for it.
Colombi obviously has an arm and potential, but missed high on several throws today. Granted, it’s spring and it’s just one scrimmage (half, actually), but for now the job is still firmly in Love’s grasp.