Utah State football doesn't slow down during practice blackout, plus spring ball notes
Logan • It doesn't hold 70,000 people, and it doesn't host nationally televised events. But Utah State's Laub Indoor Training Center has at least one thing in common with the Superdome.
Sometimes, the lights go out.
The building's power outage was only about five minutes long - not nearly the wait the nation had to endure during the Super Bowl. But it happened in the middle of Utah State's football practice on Monday morning. And as all teams must learn to do, the Aggies had to adjust.
The momentary outage occurred when the team usually runs 7-on-7 passing drills, so the Aggies instead turned on the auxilary corner lights and moved into individual work as the main system slowly powered back on.
"We definitely weren't gonna stop," coach Matt Wells said. "We just kind of improvised and picked up the competition at the end."
The adjustment to the hiccup was a theme Monday morning as Utah State picked up practice in the second week of spring ball. Before the outage, the coaching staff called for an unscripted drill that Wells said his kickers weren't prepared for. He wasn't pleased.
The quick change and the subsequent power outage reinforced the need for Utah State to be ready for the unexpected. Just like a single play can shift a whole approach to a contest, so can things change as the Aggies are doing everyday drills.
"It's no different than a game," he said. "It's a turnover, it's a pick. Something happens, and all of a sudden it's a pick-six, and all of a sudden the extra point team has to go on and kick it. Something changes. We're training them to understand things are going to change, and it's not just going to be scripted. It's not going to be perfect."
Of couse Wells, for the curveballs he tried to throw his squad Monday morning, did not plan the blackout.
Extra notes from Utah State football practice:
• The quarterbacks, Wells said, are doing "OK." He hasn't seen much greatness yet, but no one has been far below expectations either. One issue he targeted was his quarterbacks looking too hard for the big play instead of going through a progression.
"They still gotta understand they can't be greedy," he said. "When it's a progression read and the first option is open, they gotta take it. All day."
• The full team drill was short but had an extra wrinkle on Monday: push-ups. The first, second and third squad each had three downs to "win" a possession. The loser had to do push-ups. The first team offense won thanks to a catch from Jojo Natson and a nice run by Joe Hill (with the blocking for each play to succeed). The second team offense did push-ups, however.
• There have been issues with snaps in the past few practices on second-team and third-team offense. They continued Monday in 11-on-11 drills, limited though they were. Twice, the offense had to recover from snaps that hit the turf, and the defense took advantage.
• The kick and punt returning positions are wide open without Chuck Jacobs, Cameron Webb or Kerwynn Williams returning. Wells said the staff isn't close to making a decision, though Natson, Hill, Kelvin Lee and a host of other playmakers are taking reps.
"We're not ready to anoint anybody there, I promise you that," he said . "Neither returner, kicks or punts. We'll know a bit more once we get the ball outside and in the air and see those guys field something instead of the Jugs machine."
• Is anyone exempt from March Madness? Certainly not the Utah State coaching staff. Wells had a lengthy response for a reporter asking if he had been following Florida Gulf Coast, the No. 15-seeded bracket destroyer that played its way into the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen during the weekend. Wells said he admired how FGCU's Andy Enfield had coached his players.
"Those kids did not play like it was a big stage - they played like it was November," Wells said. "And for a coach to be able to get that across to his team, and for his kids to be able to respond to that is a pretty neat deal. That's why you have Cinderella stories. ... They're fun to watch. They play with a looseness, they play with a quiet confidence. The bright lights don't scare 'em."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon