Utah State football held its fourth spring practice Tuesday afternoon on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium, and one of the many focuses for the team this spring is to improve the effort and toughness within its defensive line.

Utah State returns six letterwinners from last season and seven defensive linemen total who have combined to play in 97 games with 12 starts.

“I think they are working hard. We just have to be a little more detailed with our body of work and work on the fundamentals; that’s what we are striving to get back to,” said second-year co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Frank Maile. “We have to attack the line of scrimmage and get our hats to the football.

“Our three goals this spring [are] to attack the line of scrimmage, work on getting one turnover a day and getting our hats to the football."

In all, Utah State returns 12 defensive linemen who were members of the program during the 2016 season, including one starter in senior DE Ian Togiai. USU also welcomes back five other letterwinners here in junior DE Adewale Adeoye, junior NG Gasetoto Schuster, sophomore NG Mohelika Uasike, fellow sophomore NG Christopher ‘Unga and sophomore DE Jacoby Wildman.

Togiai has the most returning game experience for Utah State as he has played in 38 contests with nine starts, while Schuster has appeared in 21 games. Wildman has played in 11 games, Uasike has appeared in 10 games and has made three starts and Adeoye and ‘Unga both played in seven games a year ago, while Templeton appeared in three games in 2016.

“Effort and toughness [are] our main emphasis right now,” said Schuster. “We need to have everyone flying to the ball and making those hustle plays.”

Of the 12 returners along the defensive line, nose guard is Utah State’s most experienced position with Schuster, Uasike and ‘Unga having combined to play in 38 games with three starts.

“I feel good about the nose guard position. We just need to have the d-line position catch up,” Maile said.

Furthermore, Utah State welcomes back five defensive linemen who redshirted last season in freshmen Caden Andersen (DE), Ritisoni Fata (NG), Logan Lee (DE), Jake Pitcher (DE) and Keith Tambe (DE).

Utah State continues spring practice Thursday morning, before holding its first scrimmage of the spring on Friday, March 17.

During the five-week period, the Aggies will participate in 15 spring practice sessions, including their annual Blue vs. White Spring Game on Saturday, April 8, on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium at 2 p.m.

Doug Hoffman is the associate athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.