Utah State football: First-team offense shines during Aggies' second scrimmage of fall camp
, Tom Smart, Deseret News
LOGAN — Utah State head coach Matt Wells inherited a stout defense at USU, but the former offensive coordinator’s high-powered offense was the talk of the team after the Aggies’ second scrimmage of fall camp Wednesday evening.
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton was in midseason form, surgically picking apart the defense during his reps. The junior threw for 172 yards on 12 of 20 attempts and tossed three touchdowns.
“Explosive plays by the offense,” Wells said when asked about the highlights of the scrimmage. “That is what we are used to around here. That’s the standard and that will be the expectation every Saturday.”
Big plays included a 25-yard touchdown strike to Travis Reynolds, a 42-yard toss to Hayden Weichers, and several nice plays by Bruce Natson, including a touchdown catch of his own.
Keeton also finished as the third-leading rusher for the Aggies with 13 yards on five carries. He would have had many more had it not been for quick whistles from officials looking to protect the quarterback from onrushing defenders.
Although the first-team offense supplied many of the fireworks, USU had plenty to be happy about from the defensive side as well.
“I thought both defenses at the end of the two-minute drill ... studded it up against the offense,” Wells said. “The (first-team) defense absolutely shut down the (second-team) offense in their side of the two-minute drill.”
The strength of USU's defense lies in a talented linebacker corps that goes six or seven deep, according to defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. Kyler Fackrell did most of the damage, finishing with three sacks, while Tavaris McMillian and Nick Vigil each added one of their own.
McMillian, in particular, showed the strength and versatility of the linebacker unit. The junior from Miami can play all four linebacker positions, but has been spending a lot of time opposite of Fackrell in the Aggies' base defense during camp.
“Depth is valuable, especially against pace teams where guys can rotate in and out,” McMillian said. “It plays into our hands.”
At cornerback, the Aggies have been trying several players opposite Nevin Lawson. Rashard Stewart, along with his teammates Tay Glover-Wright and Quinton Byrd, have all been seeing first-team snaps.
“Me and Tay (Glover-Wright) are like brothers,” Stewart said. “We learn from each other. The main thing I like is the DB group is all in competition. All these guys make me try and play harder.”
Stewart has worked hard to improve his consistency over the summer, going as far as to cut out his offseason rapping hobby to focus more on football. The effort has paid off, as Stewart has been one of the standouts of camp so far. The junior corner even registered a sack on Keeton coming off a corner blitz during the scrimmage.
“Chasing him is like chasing a rabbit,” Stewart joked. “I just like to watch a lot of D-linemen during their one-on-ones so when it’s time for me to rush I can steal their technique.”
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.
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