Utah State football: Alex Hart, Adam Kennedy shine in USU spring game
Eli Lucero, Herald Journal
LOGAN — Big plays came early, came often and came from a slew of different players during Saturday's Blue-White Spring Game, which the blue team controlled the majority of the game en route to a 33-7 win.
Junior quarterback Adam Kennedy started the game at the helm for the White squad, with freshman Alex Hart running the Blue team's offense, both of whom are battling for the starting quarterback position at USU next fall.
Kennedy brought the challenge right from the start to the Blue squad's defense, which consisted of the Aggies' top defensive unit. On Kennedy's first pass of the game he connected with senior wideout Xavier Martin for a 31-yard completion to bring the opening drive into White's territory. It was one of Martin's 11 catches for 145 yards on the day.
From there, though, Blue's defense locked down. The opening drive came to a close when sophomore cornerback Nevin Lawson sacked Kennedy — part of a handful of blitzes that head coach Gary Andersen threw at his two quarterbacks throughout the day to put their pocket presence to the test.
"We didn't hold anything back from the pressures on the defensive side," Andersen said. "There were some ups and downs in both of those spots for those two young men obviously."
The pressure from the second team defense didn't fluster Hart much when he went under center for the White team. Needing just four plays, Hart engineered the game's first scoring drive, highlighted by a 32-yard pass to tight end Tarren Lloyd, and capped off with a 5-yard touchdown run by junior running back Joey DeMartino.
Following a missed extra point attempt, the Blue team struck again on the very next play when senior safety Walter McClenton picked off a Kennedy pass and took it 30 yards for a touchdown to put Blue up 13-0.
After another drive came up short for Kennedy, Hart led another scoring drive, going 84 yards in six plays and ending with a bang as Hart went up top to senior Eric Moats for a 42-yard touchdown pass, putting Blue up 20-0 at the end of the first quarter before Hart and Kennedy switched teams for the second quarter.
Hart didn't slow down in his turn against the top defense though, orchestrating another scoring drive that finished in a big way, this time with a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end Keegan Andersen.
Hart finished the day completing 19-of-27 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, while Kennedy connected on 19-of-33 attempts for 223 yards and one touchdown. Each quarterback threw one interception.
Despite his early struggles and Hart's heroics, Kennedy believes that competition between the two quarterbacks is keeping the entire team rallied together in finding a leader.
"They've been behind us the whole way," Kennedy said. "Clearly I made mistakes, so it was a learning process, but I think I'm going to improve from it and come back strong come fall."
Hart agreed that the ongoing competition for the starting job has caused each player to continually raise their own performance.
"Competition's great," Hart said. "It pushes us both. If they were to name a starter right off the bat, we'd get lackadaisical, so this is good just to push us both."
Andersen said that the quarterback race won't go any farther than a week-and-a-half into fall practice before they settle on either Hart or Kennedy. Aside from that, Andersen is happy with how things have developed over the course of 15 spring practices.
"Mission accomplished as far as what we were looking for," Andersen said. "We talked early about naming a quarterback as we went through spring. That didn't take place, but everything else I think we've achieved our goals as far as an offense and a defense moving in the right direction with a lot of work still."
Andersen said the team will have several weeks off following spring practices until June 12, when summer workouts will proceed.
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