With record-setting quarterback Brent Snyder gone, the No. 1 goal for the Utah State football team during spring drills will be to develop a quarterback.
The Aggies are scheduled to open spring drills today in Logan. The Ags will practice three times a week and culminate their spring drills with the annual Blue-White game May 6 in Romney Stadium.Utah State Coach Chuck Shelton and his staff return 42 letterman including 13 starters from last year's 4-7 squad that finished third in the Big West Conference.
"I see us as an improved football team - gameday - because we will play better defense and we will be a stronger football team," said Shelton. `If we played tomorrow we would be better defensively."
The Ags return leading tackler Del Lyles, who is just a sophomore, all-league safety Travis Clark, tackle Jeff Hunsaker, linebacker Tom Hansen, defensive backs Scott Munson and Toby Tyler, linebacker Greg Davis, linemen Rob VanDePol, Aaron Hill and Drew McCandless, and linebacker Kevin Bouwman, who missed the last four games with a broken ankle. Also back is defensive back Greg Haynes, who sat out last year with an injury.
Offensively, the Ags will miss Snyder and all-time leading receiver Kendal Smith. But Shelton doesn't plan to abandon the air game in 1989, although it will be a different approach.
"We're looking toward more of a play action passing game," he said. "We will roll the quarterback out more and he will move around more in the offense."
The quarterback job is up for grabs among sophomores Kirk Johnson, Kevin White and Stewart Hansen. White, a former Logan High quarterback, quarterbacked Snow College to the JC national title in 1985 before leaving on an LDS mission. Patrick Newman will lead the Aggie recieving corps, which includes Rod Moore, Tracy Jenkins, Olun Graves, Dexter Pointer and Rob Howell.
Brett Payne and Demetrius Brown, who both started several games last year, are the top returning running backs. Russ Moody is back at placekicker and Rusty Carlsen will take over punting duties.
The offensive line will need rebuilding after three starters graduated. Keith Roberson and Ryan Duve are back at the tight end position.
The Aggie schedule for 1989 looks like this: Sept. 9 - at Utah; Sept. 16 - at USC; Sept. 23 - at Illinois; Sept. 30 - BYU; Oct. 7 - Fullerton State; Oct. 14 - Fresno State; Oct. 21 - at New Mexico State; Nov. 4 - at Pacific; Nov. 11 - San Jose State; Nov. 18 - at UNLV; Nov. 25 - at Long Beach State.