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USU football: Q&A with Aggies offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven

By Megan Allen

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21 2014 11:34 a.m. MDT

Updated: Thursday, Aug. 21 2014 11:34 a.m. MDT

At the mid-point of Utah State football’s fall camp, the pieces are starting to come together. With one true scrimmage under the team’s belt, the coaching staff has overseen a lot of hard work on the field and in the meeting rooms, designing what they expect to be a successful program.

As the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Kevin McGiven is using fall camp to find the Aggies’ strengths, define roles and create a cohesive, successful offense. We met with McGiven to discuss spring practice and the goals he has for the USU offense heading into the 2014 season.

Overall, how has fall camp been for the offense?

“It’s been a work in progress. The first scrimmage was kind of the culmination of week one. It was nice to see them come out and do some things. The biggest things we were looking for were clean play, in terms of not turning the ball over, substitutions getting lined up right and penalties. We got that for the most part. That in and of itself is a big step at this point. The chemistry and execution are starting to come.”

Both quarterback Chuckie Keeton and running back Joe Hill are returning from ACL injuries. How are they doing and what do you expect from them?

“They’ve made progress as well. It was nice to see them out in a game-like situation. To see them running around, making plays in a live situation with not a lot of hesitation. It was good to see Chuckie in that role. Joe is the same way. He held back a little bit through the first days of fall camp, trying to figure out what his limitations were. He let it loose and was feeling really good in the scrimmage. It was good to see him open up and make some cuts and have some confidence.”

Of the newcomers, who has stood out to you or shown the most promise at this point of camp?

“Offensively, the guy who keeps impressing me is LaJuan Hunt. He’s worked his way up the ladder a little bit as far as running backs go. In certain personnel groups, he was getting some time with our ones. He continues to impress me with his toughness and how he’s grasped the offense. He’s one of the newcomers that has definitely caught my eye.”

The wide receiver position appears to be one of the deepest areas on the team. What have you seen from them as they progress through fall?

“That’s another position that was good to see in the scrimmage, seeing them make some plays. We know they’re capable of that. Sometimes practices aren’t always geared toward that. It’s a deep group, we feel like we’re really talented. We have some new additions there. Hunter Sharp had a really solid scrimmage. We’re excited for him rounding out our receiver corps with some of the veterans that are back and doing a nice job. Ronald Butler has really stepped up his play the last few days of camp. Brandon Swindall and JoJo Natson have been impressive too. It’s a position that we’re really excited about.”

You are starting an almost completely new offensive line this fall. How are they growing and developing?

“We’re still kind of tweaking things there to find the best recipe for starting a game, playing within a game and finishing a game. They’re working really, really hard. They’re starting to communicate better, both in the run game and in the pass game with the quarterback. It’s tough playing against our defense every single day with all the front recognition and movement that’s going on. It’s one of the toughest defenses that we see from an identification standpoint. They really have to be on their toes, the center especially. They’re starting to communicate and gel. They’ve picked up where they left off in the spring and we’re starting to see some good things.”

How do you feel about the running backs as a group?

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