Utah State had solid play from both its offense and defense during its first scrimmage of spring camp Friday afternoon on Merlin Olsen Field inside Maverik Stadium as the team practiced for nearly two hours with an estimated 100 snaps of the football.
“That was good give and take today; it was not one-sided,” said fifth-year head coach Matt Wells. “A tremendous job by the No. 1 defense in a red zone opportunity holding the offense to a field goal and then they missed it. And then, I thought there was some really good drives by the offense.”
Offensively, Utah State scored six touchdowns and added two field goals, while the defense recorded four sacks and eight tackles for loss during the day to go along with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown on the last play of the scrimmage by junior LB Chase Christiansen.
Highlighting Utah State’s offense was junior QB DJ Nelson, who was 12-of-21 passing for 202 yards, which included a 60-yard touchdown to sophomore WR Chad Artist. Additionally, senior QB Kent Myers was 10-of-17 passing for 105 yards with two touchdowns, and redshirt freshman QB Jordan Love completed 5-of-10 passes for 53 yards. In all, USU’s three quarterbacks combined to complete 27-of-48 passes for 360 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Senior RB Tonny Lindsey, Jr. led the Aggie rushing attack as he gained 32 yards on eight carries and scored two touchdowns. Overall, USU had 83 rushing yards on 39 carries and three touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman WR Jordan Nathan and junior WR Zach Van Leeuwen each had four receptions on the day for 48 and 46 yards, respectively, while junior WR Ron’quavion Tarver had three receptions for 69 yards and one score and Chad Artist had two catches for 69 yards and one touchdown.
On the first drive of the scrimmage, the No. 1 offense drove right down the field on the No. 1 defense before stalling at the 13-yard line, leading to a 30-yard field goal from sophomore PK Dominik Eberle to cap a 10-play, 57-yard drive.
Utah State’s next scoring drive came four series later when Lindsey, Jr. scored on a 2-yard run to cap a six-play, 25-yard drive.
USU’s defense then got three stops in a row, including back-to-back three-and-outs, before the Aggie offense produced three scoring drives in four series. First, Myers connected with senior WR Jaren Colston-Green on a 13-yard reception. Then, freshman PK Michael Smith converted on a 31-yard field. And finally, Lindsey, Jr. scored his second rushing touchdown on the day from 3 yards out.
The offense then closed the scrimmage with three touchdowns in four drives, highlighted by the 60-yard strike from Nelson to Artist. Freshman RB SJ Fehoko added a 2-yard touchdown run, and Myers had a 17-yard touchdown to Tarver, his second touchdown pass of the game.
“I think we have improved during spring ball, especially in the red zone, and this was a good first scrimmage for the offense,” said Myers. “Our main goal this spring is trying to find out what works best for us and I thought we did a good job with that today.”
Defensively, redshirt freshman LB David Woodward had a team-high six tackles during the scrimmage, while senior LB Alex Huerta, senior LB Patrick Lee Miranda, junior LB Derek Larsen, sophomore LB Braden Harris and redshirt freshman S Baron Gajkowski each had four tackles. Junior NG Gasetoto Schuster added two tackles for loss as part of his three total stops.
“I felt like we played really fast today as a defense,” said Larsen. “We were focusing on everyone getting to the ball and that is something we really did a good job with today.”
Utah State continues its spring schedule next week, practicing on Tuesday from 3:30-5:30 p.m., and on Thursday from 6-8 a.m., before concluding the week with a third practice on Friday, March 24, from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
During the five-week period, the Aggies will participate in 15 spring practice sessions, culminating with 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.