Aggie football has ‘balanced’ scrimmage Saturday

A balanced offensive attack was matched by a solid defensive effort in Utah State’s football scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium.Legendary Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden was USU’s guest coach Saturday and he, along with the large crowd in attendance, were treated to action that saw positive results on both sides of the ball during the approximately 120-play scrimmage.The balnced Aggie offense had 409 passing yards and 411 rushing yards, led by senior running back Michael Smith’s 112 yards rushing and a TD to go with 91 yards receiving. USU’s defense had seven players record five or more tackles, led by junior cornerback Alfred Bowden’s eight stops and a fumble recovery.”Overall it was productive,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said. “It was one’s versus two’s. First unit on offense and on defense was dramatically ahead of our two’s. There is some good and some bad in that statement. We need to improve with our two’s. I thought the first groups on both sides played well.”Andersen and his staff put the Aggies in all sorts of game situations, ranging from long drives to the red zone, starting at their own one to starting at the goal line.”Today went well. Both sides of the ball are evenly matched,” said senior quarterback Diondre Borel, who was 15-of-21 for 184 yards with a TD. “I feel like we could get better on offense and defense with cleaning up mistakes. That is one thing that we focus on that we need to get better at. Overall, we are out there making plays. Our defense is making plays. We are going back and forth. That is what we want.”Other highlights include junior wide receiver Stanley Morrison’s 56-yard TD run on an end-around and added 36 yards receiving with another TD. Senior back-up quarterback Jeff Fischer was 18-of-29 for 197 yards with a TD and added two rushing scores.Defensive highlights featured senior linebacker Maxim Dinka Mba with a team-high two sacks as part of his seven tackles while senior cornerback Curtis Marsh snared an interception in the endzone, one of the defense’s many stops on the day.”There are a lot of encouraging factors,” Andersen said. “I thought we played better on defense, as far as moving to the ball and tackling. It was pretty good overall. There were not enough turnovers. I thought the pressure on the quarterback was decent, but we will see when we watch the tape.”Special teams saw freshman Josh Thompson boot seven field goals, some ending drives and some during separate field goal situations. Senior linebacker Devin Johnson denied one attempt, bursting through the line to block the kick.Layden spent time with the Aggie team and coaches, addressing the team both before and after the scrimmage.”I knew Coach Andersen from when he was with the Utes. He heard me speak. He knows that I have the players’ best interest in mind,” Layden said, who has a football background, coaching in New York before getting fully into the basketball coaching realm. “I said, ‘Forget about the history, go out and make history. Have people remember that this is a very special team.’ I think from what I saw out here today, they look like they are going to be fine.”Layden is one of three guest coaches visiting USU’s spring camp.”It is big for us to listen to a Hall of Fame coach. It is good for me. It is good for the kids. It is amazing,” Andersen said. “His message is very consistent. It is teamwork. It is discipline. It is come to work every day. He can relate those experiences to John Stockton and Karl Malone. The kids can grasp on to that and understand that is coming from someone else other than our coaches.”Utah State has another formal scrimmages scheduled for Saturday, April 17, at Noon, which is USU’s next practice open to the public. Aggie player legend and former BYU veteran coach LaVell Edwards will be USU’s guest coach.The Aggies’ spring camp will culminate with the annual Blue-White Spring Game, which is also open to the public, on Saturday, April 24 at 2 p.m. at Romney Stadium.USU has six home games in 2010, including a nationally-televised game on the ESPN network for the second-straight season, as the USU-BYU game on Friday, Oct. 1 will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.

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