Utah State’s defense was on full display during its second scrimmage of spring camp Friday afternoon on Merlin Olsen Field inside Maverik Stadium as the team practiced for one hour with an estimated 70 snaps of the football.
“Today was won by the defense,” said sixth-year head coach Matt Wells. “Great job by the defense, really the whole day. I thought they tackled well in space, they did a great job backed up in the red zone and they forced a couple turnovers.”
In all, Utah State’s defense recorded two interceptions to go along with five pass breakups and added 2.0 sacks as part of its 8.0 tackles for loss.
Redshirt freshman CB Zahodri Jackson led Utah State with five tackles, one interception and one pass breakup on the day, while redshirt freshman LB Jamaal Evans recorded the other interception, to go along with a pass breakup. Junior LB Mason Tobeck had 2.0 tackles for loss as part of his four stops, and sophomore LB David Woodward also had 2.0 tackles for loss. Senior LB Suli Tamaivena also had four tackles during the scrimmage, as did redshirt freshman S Chase Nelson. Sophomore CB Ja’Marcus Ingram finished the day with three tackles and one pass breakup.
“I didn’t think the defense started off practice as well as we should have,” said Woodward. “Once we got to the scrimmage though, I felt like we put a lot of good plays together, and for the most part, dominated the offense.”
Offensively, Utah State scored just one touchdown and added two field goals during the scrimmage. Sophomore QB Jordan Love had the only touchdown pass of the day as he connected with senior WR DJ Nelson on a 25-yard strike. Love finished the scrimmage 3-of-6 passing for 34 yards, while sophomore WR Jordan Nathan had three receptions for 16 yards to lead the receivers.
Utah State’s offense appeared as if it was going to have a good scrimmage as it took the opening series and drove the ball inside the 40-yard line before stalling. Unfortunately, that would be the first of six straight drives without any points, which included four series with four or fewer plays.
Sophomore PK Michael Smith gave the offense its first points on a 22-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 45-yard drive. The Aggie defense then held the offense without any points for the next three series before junior PK Dominik Eberle converted a 31-yard field goal to cap a six-play, 12-yard drive.
Utah State’s only touchdown came two series later as Love hit Nelson on the first play of a red zone drive that began at the 25-yard line.
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.
“We have five practices left, and I think this is going to be a good team,” said Wells. “I’ll reserve the right to have judgment on if it can be a great team. I think the next two weeks in spring practice and the next three or four months through the summer (are) going to dictate a lot. The decisions we make to continue to invest and buy-in, and the decisions we make off the field will go a long way. This team is talented. It’s a team that’s playing better right now, and it looks better at this point than the last two teams the last couple of years. I think we’re a little further ahead.”
Doug Hoffman is the associate athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.