Tom Smart, Deseret News
LOGAN — Saturday was moving day for many of the Utah State football players looking to lock down roles for the upcoming season. With entrenched starters like Chuckie Keeton, Tyler Larsen, Joe Hill and Nevin Lawson watching the scrimmage from the sidelines, there were plenty of opportunities for those on the second and third units to showcase their talents for the coaching staff and crowd on hand during USU's final scrimmage of fall camp.
“The coaches warned us going in that today was a big competition day,” junior quarterback Craig Harrison said. “I felt like I was able to come out and do exactly what they wanted me to.”
True freshman wide receiver Braelon Roberts was one of the stars of the short scrimmage. He hauled in two touchdowns. Meanwhile, running back Kennedy Williams continued to show that he is more than just former Aggie Kerwynn Williams' younger brother and caught head coach Matt Wells' attention with his consistent level of play.
“Day 18 and he’s practicing just like it is day one. I’ve been impressed with him in his special teams work and at running back,” Wells said.
The coaching staff will evaluate the practice tape over the weekend, pairing down players to focus practices on the starters and primary reserves.
BACKUP QB BATTLE: With Keeton sitting out the scrimmage, the battle for backup quarterback was one of the main events of the scrimmage. Harrison, Darell Garretson and Jeff Manning all made their cases to win the job. Harrison threw for a touchdown and managed the tempo of the offense well. Garretson had one of his best practices of camp and finished with 122 passing yards and a score. Manning showed off his legs with a 36-yard quarterback run for a touchdown early in the scrimmage.
“There were some bright spots for each one of them,” Wells said. “The bar has been set so high and we have high expectations for them. I thought those guys handled themselves pretty well. It wasn’t pretty at times, but they all had their moments.”
KICKERS ON TARGET:Winds were swirling in the south end zone all evening, but that didn’t stop the three kickers competing for the starting job from hitting all of their kicks. Incumbent kickers Nick Diaz and Josh Thompson along with freshman Jake Thompson showed signs that the field goal kicking woes from last year may be finished this season.
“I thought they all drilled them pretty good. It’s a good competition there,” Wells said. “It’s as strong a situation as we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
CROWDS GATHER: Saturday's scrimmage was all part of Aggie Football Family Fun Day, which included two youth football games prior to the scrimmage and autographs following it. Estimated attendance hovered around the 8,000 mark, which meant a lot to the team, according to Wells.
“I think it reflects the excitement about the Mountain West and in the program,” Wells said. “Hopefully our program is a reflection of the blue-collar community we are in.”
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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