Aggie Notes: Thoughts From Utah State’s Second Scrimmage

Aug 21, 2023, 4:35 PM

LOGAN, Utah – 14 days ahead of their season opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Utah State Aggies put on a show in their second scrimmage of fall camp.

Head coach Blake Anderson’s team hosted ‘Family Fun Day’ at Maverik Stadium on Saturday, August 19 as they prepare for the 2023 campaign.

RELATED: USU Tailback Named To Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Watch List

From the first snap, USU worked with tempo to move the ball up and down the field. Anderson was hands-on throughout the day, coaching position groups and individuals equally.

Despite a handful of mental mistakes, the Aggies were in high spirits and seem nearly ready to open the season against a Big Ten team in Iowa.

Most importantly, Utah State made it through their final scrimmage without any major injuries.

“We got out of the day healthy, which was a huge concern,” said Anderson. “Guys are beat up, sore, and tired, but they pushed through. We had some good plays and bad plays on both sides. Plenty to learn from, but it will be good video for us to watch.”

“We’re seeing some of these new guys starting to establish some things. Too many sacks and too many busted protections. We missed a bunch of shots that were one-on-one downfield. But, we didn’t turn the ball over. That’s two scrimmages in a row where we haven’t turned the ball over and that gives us a chance.”

RELATED: Sophomore Aggie Safety Continues Racking Up Preseason Recognition

Defense Shows Physicality At Goal Line

USU’s first-team defense put together a great sequence at the goal line. Three consecutive stops inside the two-yard line kept the first-team offense out of the end zone early. Throughout the afternoon, Aggie defensive lineman got off blocks and made plays in the backfield.

All the more impressive was the fact the defense was without senior defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka. The emotional leader was seen on the sideline with a walking boot on his left foot. Despite the injury, Motu’apuaka was in good spirits and said he expects to be ready for the season opener in less than two weeks.

Another name heard frequently on Saturday was Aggie safety Ike Larsen. Larsen was a consistent presence in the tackling game, showing enthusiasm all afternoon. Larsen spoke with KSL Sports about fellow safety Anthony Switzer and what he’ll bring to the defense, saying Switzer will bring much-needed physicality to the defense this season.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Bronson Olevao Jr. paced the team with eight tackles.

USU finished the scrimmage with 11 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, and four pass breakups. Sophomore defensive end Enoka Migao had four tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss.

“The defense did a lot better today than in the last scrimmage,” said Migao. “Our coaches challenged us to come out a lot more physical and add more effort. We made mistakes, but overall, we had a good day on defense.”

RELATED: 2023 Utah State Aggies Football Schedule

Aggie Offense Looks To Play With Tempo

Offensively, USU gained 381 yards in the nearly two-hour workout. 285 of those yards came through the air with the other 96 coming from the rushing attack.

Cooper Legas and Levi Williams took a majority of the snaps but redshirt freshman McCae Hillstead impressed in his opportunities. The redshirt freshman out of Skyridge High School completed 4-of-6 passes for 62 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Expected starter Cooper Legas completed 10-of-19 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Backup Levi Williams connected on 12-of-19 passes for 123 yards and no scores. While Legas spread the ball around to different receivers, Williams appeared to have a strong connection with wideout Kyle Van Leeuwen.

Van Leeuwen led all receivers with seven catches for 69 yards. Colby Bowman, a junior graduate transfer from Stanford, caught three passes while working mostly with the second unit. Van Leeuwen could have a big role in the offense as he returns from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of the 2022 season.

Probable starter Robert Briggs Jr. carried the ball a team-high 10 times, gaining 28 yards and a touchdown. Junior transfer Rahsul Faison led the Aggies with 39 rushing yards on eight carries while Cooper Jones found the end zone once.

Notably, the Aggies have now completed two scrimmages without committing a single turnover. After averaging more than two turnovers per game last season, USU will need to protect the football to keep games close.

RELATED: Trio Of Aggies Recognized By Polynesian Football Hall Of Fame

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State begins the 2023 campaign with a road test against the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa hosts the Aggies on Saturday, September 2 with a 10 a.m. (MT) season-opening kickoff. The Hawkeyes ended 2022 with a 21-0 shutout against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl to finish the season at 8-5.

Every Utah State football game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Aggie Notes: Thoughts From Utah State’s Second Scrimmage