LOGAN, Utah – Utah State football held its first scrimmage of fall camp Saturday morning on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium and first-year head coach Blake Anderson was pleased with his team’s play.
“I thought we played hard and physical today,” said Anderson. “The biggest concern, obviously, is turnovers and you can’t have five turnovers in a game and expect to win very often. I’m fired up about the defense for creating them and I’m frustrated with the offense for having them. I guess that is the way it goes when you go against yourself.
“I also wanted them to have a good time and I think they are. We have had really, really good energy from these guys all week. We have not had to beg them to practice, they come prepared and the meetings have been good. So, in terms of culture and character of what we are expecting and asking of them, it’s been a really, really good first week.”
Offensively, Utah State generated 609 yards of total offense with 519 through the air and 90 on the ground. Sophomore wide receiver Kyle Van Leeuwen led the charge on offense with 11 receptions for 131 yards, while freshman wideout NyNy Davis had seven catches for 75 yards and senior wideout Deven Thompkins caught six passes for 82 yards.
“We played pretty well on offense today,” said Van Leeuwen. “Obviously, we have to work on ball security and keeping the ball off the ground, but our tempo looks a lot better than it did in the spring and I’m excited for what is ahead. Our offense is really explosive, we have a lot of talent and we work really hard.”
Three quarterbacks saw action for Utah State during the scrimmage and all three performed fairly well. Graduate junior Logan Bonner, a transfer from Arkansas State, was 16-of-20 passing for 189 yards, sophomore Cooper Legas was 14-of-17 for 153 yards and junior Andrew Peasley was 11-of-21 for 127 yards.
Sophomore running back John Gentry had a team-high 12 carries for 26 yards, while graduate senior Devonta’e Henry-Cole carried the ball 11 times for 44 yards.
Defensively, Utah State created five turnovers on the day with three fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions, while adding 7.0 sacks and 19.0 tackles for loss, to go along with four pass breakups. Graduate senior linebacker Justin Rice, a transfer from Arkansas State, led the defense with six tackles, which included 1.0 tackles for loss, to go along with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery.
“We came out and gave great effort on defense today,” said Rice. “We were pretty good on our assignments and everyone was running to the football and creating turnovers. We had a lot of turnovers today, and turnovers win games, so we did really well on that front.”
Sophomore safety Crew Wakley had the other interception for the Aggie defense, while graduate senior defensive end Jaylin Bannerman and senior linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer both had fumble recoveries.
Senior safety Jarrod Green and graduate junior safety Hunter Reynolds, a transfer from Michigan, each had a team-high seven tackles, while graduate senior cornerback Kyle Mayberry, a transfer from Kansas, had six stops. Reynolds also had a pass breakup, to go along with 1.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss. Sophomore defensive end Addison Trupp led the Aggies with 3.0 sacks, while junior defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka had 2.0 tackles for loss as part of his four total tackles.
“Clearly, we have a lot of things to fix and work on to see where we stack up a week from now,” added Anderson. “There was a lot of situational football that we did not plan today and we didn’t do anything in the red zone. Those are all things we will start adding next week.”
All fall camp practices are closed to the public. Fans are invited to watch Utah State’s final scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 21, at noon, as part of its annual Family Football Fun Day, which will be held on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.
Utah State will open the 2021 season on Saturday, Sept. 4, at Washington State, and begins its home season the following weekend against North Dakota on Friday, Sept. 10. Mountain West play begins for USU the following weekend at Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 18.