usu spring football

USU head coach Gary Andersen blocks linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer as he tries to tackle quarterback Henry Colombi during the Blue vs. White Spring Game on Saturday in Logan. Content Exchange

A slew of former Utah State star football players were on hand to watch the Aggies compete in their annual Spring Game on Saturday afternoon at Maverik Stadium.

Nearly 300 USU alumni were in Cache Valley this weekend, including current and former NFL players such as Chris Cooley, Greg Kragen, Nevin Lawson, Phil Olsen, Donald Penn, Al Smith, Robert Turbin and Bobby Wagner. All of those former Aggie greats were interviewed on the sideline during the scrimmage.

“You know, it’s real special for all of those NFL guys to come back,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said. “... For them to be able to come back and be a part of this was awesome. A lot of those guys are leaving here and driving down to Salt Lake and getting on an airplane and going to OTAs (organized team activities). They could have had two or three more days to spend with their families and do what they were doing in the offseason, but they came here (instead).

“The event last night as special. It was four hours of great, great opportunities to reconnect and be around those guys.”

As for the actual Spring Game, the Utah State team rolled to a 38-14 victory over the Aggies team. The Utah State squad was comprised of the majority of the veterans, including all-Mountain West quarterback Jordan Love, who completed his final nine passes of the scrimmage and ended up throwing for 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 of 20 passing.

“One team was obviously stacked with personnel to beat the other team, and that’s relevant on the scoreboard,” Andersen said. “But we stayed healthy for the most part, they had a lot of fun, they competed like crazy (and) there were a lot of plays made out there. 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’s good to see from those kids.”

Indeed, it was a good scrimmage for several of USU’s playmakers. There were 13 different Aggies who hauled in at least one reception, and five who had three or four catches.

One of those standouts was All-American kickoff returner Savon Scarver, who snared four receptions for a team-best 61 yards. Love connected with No. 81 for a 11-yard TD on a well-contested fade pattern to cap off a four-play, 50-yard drive.

“Last year we had more (experienced) receivers, so he wasn’t getting as many reps as he will this year, but this is his year to have a breakout year,” Love said of Scarver. “... He’s been doing a really good job and he’s just getting better. Like you said, he had that fade ball down here in the end zone, and that was huge.”

Speedsters Jordan Nathan and Deven Thompkins had four receptions apiece, while fellow wideouts Sam Lockett and Taylor Compton, running back Chase Nelson and tight end Carson Terrell finished with three catches each. Love and fellow signals callers Henry Colombi and Andrew Peasley combined to complete 34 of 51 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns.

There were a trio of interceptions — one each by cornerback Cameron Haney and safeties Troy Lefeged Jr. and Braxton Gunther. Gunther returned his approximately 60 yards before getting tracked down by Peasley at the 10-yard line.

The defense also had one other takeaway when safety Cash Gilliam dislodged the ball from Nelson after a nice run, and linebacker Dustin Mathews pounced on it. Another defensive highlight was defensive end Justus Te’i making back-to-back tackles for loss in short-yardage situations.

USU’s defense also made seven sacks, including two by all-Mountain West performer Tipa Galeai in the early going. No. 10 sat out the first two-plus weeks of spring camp while nursing a knee injury, but the athletic soon-to-be senior was in good form Saturday.

Galeai is looking forward to perfecting his craft during the next few months.

“I really want to work on just becoming more of a student of the game,” he said. “My physical attributes can improve, but what I need to improve the most is getting in that film room ... and breaking down offenses, checking out their tendencies and just becoming an all-around player on and off the field.”

Andersen raved about leadership of Galeai, fellow senior defensive linemen Devon Anderson and All-American linebacker David Woodward, and said “the first (string) defensive line got after the passer well” during Saturday’s scrimmage. On the flip side, Andersen was pleased with how well the first-string offensive linemen pass protected during the Spring Game.

One newcomer who shined during the scrimmage was freshman tailback Enoch Nawahine. The one-time Boise State commit had two of Utah State’s three TD rushes and finished with a team-high 73 yards on nine carries. No. 27 powered his way into the end zone from 6 and 3 yards out, and also did a superb job high-pointing the pigskin for a 38-yard reception from Peasley.

“Enoch came in and wasn’t in the best of shape, (but) found his way to get into shape and he has just battled all the way through spring (camp),” Andersen said. “... And he’ll get nothing but better as he goes through May and June and July. He’ll get bigger, he’ll get faster, he’ll get stronger, so he’s a great addition to the offense as a whole, and he’s a great addition to this football team. Great young man.”

Sione Fehoko had the most rushing attempts for the Aggies in the scrimmage as he racked up 39 yards on 14 carries. Starting tailback Gerold Bright looked very sharp in limited action. Bright had a sublime 21-yard scamper on a nifty cutback, and scored the USU’s other TD on the ground — from 1 yard out.

In addition to Scarver, Devin Heckstall, Derek Wright and Lockett had touchdown receptions for the Aggies. Lockett capped off an 11-yard, 75-yard march by burning his defender on a 10-yard slant on a ball thrown by Love in the back of the end zone.

Wright made a nice 5-yard TD catch with very little room to spare on an outstanding throw by Colombi on third and goal. Heckstall snared a well-contested 5-yard scoring pass from Colombi on a fourth-and-goal play.

Haney, along with fellow cornerbacks Zahodri Jackson and Andre Grayson all, broke up passes in impressive fashion. Haney looked very good Saturday and garnered the praise of Andersen for his work during spring camp.

“(Haney’s) been all over the place,” said Andersen, who also singled out the strong spring camp of linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer. “He’s been outside, he’s been inside. He’s going to be a great player for us and continues to make (big) plays, whether he’s going to be back at safety or wherever he may be.”

USU’s spring camp will officially conclude next week with a pair of practices closed to the public.


Twitter: hjtrebek

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