LOGAN – There was no upset Saturday afternoon at Maverik Stadium during Utah State’s annual Blue vs. White Spring Game.
And new Aggie head coach Gary Andersen was perfectly happy that the team that was supposed to win ended up winning.
“We competed, and one team was obviously stacked with personnel to beat the other team and that was reflected on the scoreboard,” Andersen said after the White team’s 38-14 victory over the Blue team.
Although some players were moved around during the scrimmage, the “stacked” White squad was comprised of primarily first-team caliber personnel, including standout returning starters like junior quarterback Jordan Love, senior running back Gerold Bright, junior linebacker David Woodward and senior defensive end Tipa Galeai.
“Today was good. The offense came out and put up a lot of points, which is what we do. So, I thought we did pretty good,” Love said. “But the defense is doing good, flying around. Today was really just more of a fun day.”
Official statistics for Saturday’s scrimmage were not provided, but Love threw two touchdown passes on the day, the first an 11-yard completion in the end zone to junior Savon Scarver. Later on, Love connected with freshman wide receiver Sam Lockett for a 12-yard score.
“That touchdown pass to Sam Lockett was probably the best one,” Love replied when asked what his favorite pass was during the scrimmage.
Bright, who saw limited action, capped off the White team’s first drive of the day with a 1-yard score, while freshman running back Enoch Nawahine rushed for another touchdown from 6 yards out.
One thing that became clear during the spring is that even though previous head coach Matt Wells and offensive coordinator David Yost are now at Texas Tech, Andersen and his OC, Mike Sanford, are definitely planning to continue to push the pace on offense.
“We have a lot of playmakers on the field, so it is my job to try and get them the ball,” Love said. “The faster we can play the more it is going to wear on defenses.”
Playing behind the first-string offensive line, Love had plenty of time to operate, while his younger QB cohorts, sophomore Henry Colombi and freshman Andrew Peasley, definitely had things a little bit tougher most of the afternoon.
Galeai recorded two sacks on the day, while senior defensive tackle Devon Anderson, senior defensive end Jacoby Wildman and freshman linebacker Elijah Shelton all notched one.
“This spring was a good learning experience for our defense and very productive for all of us,” said Galeai, who missed the first couple of weeks of spring practice with a sprained knee. “The thing I like about our defense is we get the chance to make plays and our coaches are always putting us in the right positions to make those plays, which gives us a lot of opportunities.”
Junior safety Braxton Gunther was in the right place to make the biggest defensive play of the scrimmage when he picked off Peasley and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. Junior safety Troy Lefeged Jr. also came up with an interception at Colombi’s expense, and junior safety Cash Gilliam forced a fumble that was recovered by freshman linebacker Dustin Mathews.
Colombi ended the scrimmage strong, completing two touchdown passes in the second half, the first a 6-yard strike to junior Derek Wright and the second a 5-yard connection with Devin Heckstall.
“We stayed healthy for the most part, they had a lot fun and competed like crazy, and there were a lot of plays made out there,” Andersen said. “The playmaking at the wide receiver position was good today. We saw some big plays, some yards after catch, and some fantastic catches in the end zone, and they were all contested balls, so that is good to see.
“I thought the first offensive line protected the passer well and I thought the first defensive line got after the passer well, so those were good things to see,” Andersen added. “I’m really proud of the way these kids have competed over the first 13 practices.”
In addition to his team’s play on the field, Andersen said he also enjoyed rubbing shoulders over the weekend with the close to 300 former Aggie players who returned to Logan for the annual spring game. Among the most notable were current and former NFL players like Bobby Wagner, Robert Turbin, Donald Penn, Nevin Lawson, Zach Vigil, Maurice Alexander, Chris Cooley, Greg Kragen, Al Smith and Phil Olsen, who spent Friday evening at a special gathering hosted by USU booster Jim Laub.Comment on this story
“It’s real special for all of those NFL guys to come back,” Andersen noted. “For them to be able to come back and be a part of this was awesome. … The event last night was special. It was four hours of great opportunities to reconnect and be around those guys.
“Our kids have great respect for all of those NFL guys that came back, and our players learn valuable lessons when they are around us for just a few hours. I just say thank you and hopefully we can continue doing it.”
Utah State, which will play the first game of Andersen’s second stint as head coach at Wake Forest on Aug. 30, will hold two more closed practices this week before wrapping up spring camp.