LOGAN — As fall training camp gets set to kick off this afternoon for the Utah State football team, everything in Logan has that new-season feel. The new-and-improved logo is everywhere. The uniforms are a brand-new design from Nike. Merlin Olsen field has gotten a much-needed upgrade with new astroturf with the proper shade blue in the end zones.
About the only thing the Aggies are hoping stays the same is the product on the field.
Coming off a 7-6 record and a bowl game in 2011, the Aggies now have some confidence to go along with all the new trimmings. Instead of working to rebuild the program, the Aggies are working to make the tweaks that will bring them to the next level.
"Last year we were talking about what we could do, this year we are talking about what we've done and now we know it's possible as a team to reach the goals we are working for," senior quarterback Adam Kennedy said.
Kennedy is one of eight returning starters on the offense and is also at the center of the biggest position battle going into camp: Will Kennedy or Chuckie Keeton emerge as the starting quarterback. The winner of the battle will get to work with a deep and talented skill position group headed up by running back Kerwynn Williams, returning wide receivers Matt Austin and Chuck Jacobs and tight ends Kellen Bartlett — who returns to the team after receiving a medical redshirt after missing all of 2011 — and D.J. Tialavea.
On defense, the Aggies return six starters and should be especially strong at the linebacker position, with standouts Bojay Filimoeatu and Tavaris McMillian returning.
With such a high number of returning starters, the Aggies are expected to hit the ground running. The players ran three practices leading up to the start of camp that went really well according to Kennedy.
"We went in to the player-run practices a little unsure of how they would go and how everyone would feel about it, but they ran extremely smoothly. It gave everyone a lot of confidence," Kennedy said.
"We are going to go into the first day (today) full steam ahead, ready to go and using most of the playbook on the first day."
After an offseason full of long workouts the team is ready to get back on the field and quickly get back to the level of play they finished last season at as winners of five of their final six games.
"There becomes a time when it's time to get ready to play football and I think that's where we are at," said coach Gary Andersen. "Our expectations for the camp are for it to be a difficult camp physically and mentally and also keep us fresh mentally and physically.
"It's a delicate balance, but I think we are ready for that as a team."
Aggie training camp runs until Saturday Aug. 25. Utah State will see its first action of the season at home on Thursday, Aug. 30 against Southern Utah.