LOGAN, Utah – Utah State’s football team will officially begin fall camp on Tuesday, Aug. 5 with its first practice from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m., on the USU practice field located between the football stadium and the indoor practice facility. All practices during fall camp, which concludes on Saturday, Aug. 23, are open to the public.
Second-year head coach Matt Wells welcomes back 38 lettermen (offense-17, defense-18, specialists-3) and 14 starters (offense-6, defense-5, specialists-3) from last year’s team that concluded its season with a 21-14 win against 24th-ranked Northern Illinois in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to finish the year with a 9-5 record and tie the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history. With its win against Northern Illinois, Utah State posted back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history as it played in its third-straight bowl game, also a first at USU.
Utah State, who finished the 2013 season by winning six of its final seven games, also set the school record for conference wins as it posted a 7-1 league mark in its first season in the Mountain West to win the Mountain Division of the conference and advance to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
Utah State ended the year ranking tied for 37th nationally in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ polls with two votes each, marking the second time in as many years that USU has concluded the season ranked among the top teams in the nation.
“We are very excited to start the season and begin working on the 2014 edition of the Aggies,” Wells said. “We challenged our players to have a great summer and I’m excited to see their work play out on the practice field. There are several holes to fill from last year’s team due to graduation and there are high expectations for this team, both internally and externally. We look forward to meeting all of those challenges during this training camp and I expect a high-energy and fast-paced practice Tuesday.”
Practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 5-6, will have players in helmets, practice jerseys and shorts as part of the five-day acclimation period before adding shoulder pads for practices on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 7-8. USU will then be in full pads on Saturday, Aug. 9 leading up to its first two-a-day practice on Monday, Aug. 11. USU’s first scrimmage will be on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.
Utah State’s offense in 2013 ended up being one of the best in school history, statistically, as it set single-season school records for pass completions (297), total offensive plays (1,073), touchdown passes (30) and first downs (310), including first downs passing (156), while its 445 points scored and 481 pass attempts both rank second all-time. Furthermore, USU’s 56 touchdowns rank third all-time and its 31.7 points per game average ranks fifth all-time in school history.
Utah State’s 2013 defense ranked among the top 15 in the nation in four different statistical categories, including being ranked first in Mountain West and seventh in the nation in scoring defense (17.1 ppg), which is the second fewest points allowed by an Aggie defense since 1965. USU also ranked first in the MW and eighth nationally in rushing yards allowed (106.7 ypg), first in the MW and 12th in the nation in total defense (330.9 ypg), and first in the MW and 15th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (113.2).
Highlighting Utah State’s returners is senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek HS) who was named the Mountain West’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year heading into the 2014 season. USU also returns three players who earned second-team all-MW accolades in 2013 in senior defensive end B.J. Larsen (Logan, Utah/Logan HS), senior linebacker Zach Vigil (Clearfield, Utah/Clearfield HS) and junior linebacker Kyler Fackrell (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa HS). Returning honorable mention all-league players from a year ago include senior placekicker Nick Diaz (Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Union HS), junior punt returner/wide receiver JoJo Natson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson HS) and senior safety Brian Suite (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou HS).
Other offensive starters returning for Utah State in 2014 include senior running back Joe Hill (Fullerton, Calif./Fullerton HS), senior offensive tackle Kevin Whimpey (Highland, Utah/Idaho State); junior wide receiver Brandon Swindall (Oklahoma City, Okla./Millwood HS); and sophomore quarterback Darell Garretson (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler HS). Other defensive starters returning include sophomore linebacker Nick Vigil (Plain City, Utah/Fremont HS). USU also returns two other starting specialists from a year ago in senior placekicker/holder Jaron Bentrude (Draper, Utah/Juan Diego HS) and sophomore kicker Jake Thompson (Logan, Utah/Logan HS).
Utah State lost eight players who earned all-Mountain West honors in 2013 highlighted by senior linebacker Jake Doughty, senior center Tyler Larsen and senior defensive back Nevin Lawson who all earned first-team all-MW accolades, while senior nose guard AJ Pataiali’i was named to the second-team. Aggies not returning who earned honorable mention all-MW honors in 2013 include senior safety Maurice Alexander, senior running back Joey DeMartino, senior offensive guard Jamie Markosian and senior offensive tackle Eric Schultz.
Other starters lost include junior tight end Keegan Andersen, senior defensive back Quinton Byrd, senior defensive back Tay Glover-Wright, senior defensive end Paul Piukala, senior wide receiver Travis Reynolds, senior offensive guard Sini Tauauve’a, senior tight end D.J. Tialavea, senior wide receiver Travis Van Leeuwen, senior offensive guard Kyle Whimpey and senior defensive end Connor Williams.
Utah State will open the 2014 season on Sunday, Aug. 31 at Tennessee and plays its first home game the following weekend against Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. USU’s first Mountain West game will be at home against Air Force on Saturday, Oct. 11 and the Aggies conclude the regular season at MW foe Boise State on Saturday, Nov. 29. The Mountain West Championship game will be held on Saturday, Dec. 6 at the home stadium of the divisional champion with the highest College Football Playoff Committee ranking.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on Facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on Instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
<strong>Utah State Football Practice Dates, Times and Location</strong>
Tues., Aug. 5 — 2:15 – 4:15 pm (Practice Field)
Wed., Aug. 6 — 2:15 – 4:15 pm (Practice Field)
Thur., Aug. 7 — 2:15 – 4:15 pm (Practice Field)
Fri., Aug. 8 — 2:15 – 4:15 pm (Romney Stadium)
Sat., Aug. 9 — 9:15 – 11:15 am (Romney Stadium)
Mon., Aug. 11 — 9:15 – 11:15 am / 4:55 – 6:25 pm (Practice Field) — First Two-A-Day
Tues., Aug. 12 — 6:05 – 7:30 pm (Romney Stadium) — Scrimmage #1
Wed., Aug. 13 — 3:40 – 4:30 pm (Practice Field)
Thur., Aug. 14 — 9:15 – 11:15 am / 4:55 – 6:25 pm (Practice Field)
Fri., Aug. 15 — 2:15 – 4:15 pm (Practice Field/Stadium)
FOOTBALL FAMILY FUN DAY, sponsored by Macy’s
Sat., Aug. 16 — 6:00 pm (Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium) — Scrimmage #2
Mon., Aug. 18 — 9:15 – 11:15 am / 3:55 – 5:25 pm (Practice Field)
Tue., Aug. 19 — 6:05 – 7:30 pm (Romney Stadium) — Scrimmage #3
Wed., Aug. 20 — 3:40 – 4:30 pm (Practice Field)
Thur., Aug. 21 — 8:55 – 10:25 am / 5:25 – 6:50 pm (Practice Field/Stadium)
Fri., Aug. 22 — 1:30 – 3:30 pm (Practice Field/Stadium)
Sat., Aug. 23 — 9:15 – 11:15 am (Romney Stadium)
End of Camp
NOTE: All dates, times and locations subject to change