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.
“I thought the last two-minute drill was excellent by both the ones and the twos,” said sixth-year head coach Matt Wells. “Obviously, it was very good to see Dominik (Eberle) hit a 48-yarder at the end, so he had a good day and a good scrimmage. I thought the offense had the upper hand in the two-minute and the backed-up part, but the first 20 or 30 minutes was dominated by the defense.”
Offensively, Utah State scored three touchdowns and added four field goals, while the defense recorded six sacks and nine tackles for loss during the day to go along with five pass breakups.
Highlighting Utah State’s offense was sophomore QB Jordan Love, who was 13-of-17 passing for 160 yards, which included a 54-yard touchdown to junior WR Chad Artist. Additionally, redshirt freshman QB Henry Colombi was 7-of-13 passing for 89 yards with one touchdown, and freshman QB Andrew Peasley completed 5-of-7 passes for 44 yards. In all, USU’s four quarterbacks combined to complete 25-of-39 passes for 293 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Junior RB Gerold Bright led the Aggie rushing attack as he gained 45 yards on 14 carries and scored on an 8-yard run, while junior college transfer Darwin Thompson had 21 yards on five carries. Overall, USU had 64 rushing yards on 46 carries with one score.
Senior WR Ron’quavion Tarver had five receptions for 55 yards to lead the wideouts, and fellow senior WR DJ Nelson had four catches for 32 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown from Colombi. Junior TE Dax Raymond caught three passes for 38 yards, and Artist finished the scrimmage with two receptions for a team-best 84 yards.
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 21-yard line, leading to a 38-yard field goal from junior PK Dominik Eberle to cap a nine-play, 49-yard drive.
Utah State’s defense then got five stops in a row, including back-to-back three-and-outs, before the Aggie offense produced four scoring drives in five series.
First, Love connected with Artist on a 54-yard scoring strike to cap a 10-play, 99-yard drive. Following a three-and-out, USU’s offense scored on three-straight red zone possessions as Eberle connected on a 36-yard field goal, Colombi hit Nelson on a 4-yard touchdown and Bright scored on an 8-yard run.
Following three more stops by the Aggie defense, Utah State’s offense closed the scrimmage with back-to-back field goals as Eberle connected from 47 yards and sophomore Michael Smith hit from 33 yards, both of which came during two-minute scenarios.
“I thought the offense finished the scrimmage really strong,” said Nelson. “I was proud of the way we battled back. We didn’t start off the way we had hoped. That doesn’t mean we started off bad, but we responded a little bit when the defense started to pick up the intensity. We finished really strong, and I’m happy with the way we finished.”
Defensively, senior LB Chase Christiansen had a team-high six tackles during the scrimmage, senior S Gaje Ferguson added five stops and junior DE Jacoby Wildman and sophomore S Baron Gajkowski each had four stops. Sophomore DE Jake Pitcher led the team with 2.0 sacks as part of his 3.0 tackles for loss, while junior NG Mohelika Uasike also had 2.0 sacks.
Utah State will continue 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 another scrimmage on Friday, March 23, from 3:15-5:15 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 7, 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.