Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
LOGAN — The snow is just starting to melt off the seats at Romney Stadium, but the Utah State football team is already in springtime mode. Coach Gary Andersen opened up the Aggies' spring football practices on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's great to be out here," Andersen said. "Winter conditioning gets a little old for the kids. Had a lot of excitement and a lot of energy from the kids for the first day."
The Aggies took the field in shoulder pads and helmets, but Andersen stressed that they are still very much in the learning phase as the offense and defense make adjustments to last year's schemes.
"It's a learning tempo with helmets on," Andersen said. "It will get a lot more fierce, hopefully next Monday."
The Aggies' defense will switch from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 scheme to utilize the strength and depth of a good linebacking corps led by All-WAC linebacker Bobby Wagner.
"I think its fun," Wagner said of the new scheme. "Just trying to get used to it. It's pretty new so everyone is going to mess up. We understand that and the coaches understand that. We just got to do what we need to do to perfect it."
On the offensive side of the ball, Utah State will be adjusting to life without quarterback Diondre Borel. Without Borel's scrambling ability, the Aggie offense will take a lot more snaps from under center and utilize more of a pro offense, instead of last year's shotgun-oriented offense. Jeremy Higgins, Alex Hart and Adam Kennedy all took snaps at quarterback in what shapes up as a wide-open battle for the starting job.
"I got sidetracked on number 12 a couple times thinking (Diondre) was back," Andersen said about Higgins switching to Borel's old number. "All three kids are going to compete really hard and are excited about the opportunity."
Andersen ideally would like to name a starter for the quarterback position by the end of spring ball.
Also new to this year's offense is the return of running back Robert Turbin, who missed all of last season with a knee injury he suffered during off-season workouts. Turbin was beaming during practice, excited to be back doing what he loves.
"It was a great first day for me," Turbin said with a grin. "I'm happy to be back with the team and having fun with the guys. It's all smiles for me. Being out of football for a year was tough."
Turbin also feels good about the state of his knee.
"It's 100 percent. I can run, jump, cut, twist, and fall. Whatever is asked of me, I can do," Turbin said.
With perennial powerhouse Boise State off to the Mountain West Conference, the Aggies have their sights set on a WAC title in what should be a wide-open race.
"Our goal is always to win," Turbin said. "We want to win the WAC championship. We know that it is wide open this year. There is nothing else that matters to this football team right now. We want to win a WAC championship and win whatever comes after that. The door is wide open for us, all we have to do is walk through it and take hold of all our opportunities."
The Aggies will open the 2011 season on Sept. 3 when they travel to Auburn to play the defending national champions.
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