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Utah State football: Starting units dominate at first Aggie football scrimmage

Published: Saturday, Aug. 11 2012 7:31 p.m. MDT

LOGAN — Utah State's first scrimmage of fall camp was about what you would expect after just over a week of camp. The scrimmage lasted a little more than an hour and a half at Romney Stadium, with the first team taking on the second team throughout.

The starting units dominated play for most of the scrimmage. On offense, quarterback Chuckie Keeton was the star of the passing game. He hit wideout Travis Van Leeuwen on a 50-yard touchdown toss on the first snap of the second half to provide the offensive highlight of the day.

"It was a good matchup. We had Van Leeuwen on a redshirt freshman cornerback," Keeton said. "He ran a great route and I was lucky enough to put it on the right spot."

Keeton looked comfortable in the pocket after sitting out of practice for much of the week and may have put a little distance between him and Adam Kennedy for the starting quarterback position.

"I thought they both had some success. I have to go back and look at the tape," head coach Gary Andersen said of the quarterback battle. "We will spend countless hours looking at this tape to evaluate the quarterback position and every other position."

On the ground, the offense was powered by sophomore running back Joe Hill, who racked up more than 100 yards. Hill spent most of the scrimmage in the backfield, with every other running back on the roster sitting out near the end of the practice with various bumps and bruises.

"We only had one back left at the end of the scrimmage," Andersen said about Hill. "He's a tough-minded kid. He needs some help. We need to get some kids healthy that can play. He's a tough young man."

The Aggie defense, which struggled to come up with big plays and turnovers last year, had three interceptions and nine sacks.

There has been huge emphasis placed on making the big play by new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. The defense has spent extra time working on everything from the basics of their footwork to watching tape of NFL teams in an attempt to get more pressure on the quarterback.

"The two biggest questions walking in was our ability to stop the run on defense, and our ability to pass protect and throw the ball down the field on offense. We have work to do in both areas. Too many picks, too many big plays by the defense and too many sacks," Andersen said.

While the Aggies still have a lot of work to be done before their Aug. 30 opener against Southern Utah, the scrimmage was still deemed a success.

"Overall it was a good run. It was a lot of snaps, probably around 110," Andersen said. "Every kid got a rep, which was a major goal. Our goals coming in were getting a lot of snaps and getting every player a rep, which we accomplished."

Utah State has 12 more days of practice scheduled before the season opener, including next Saturday's Football Family Fun Day, which will be the only other scrimmage of fall camp. The Family Fun day begins at 2 p.m. on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium.

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