Extras from Utah State football's spring scrimmage
The Utah State football team has only one more week to go this spring. Coach Matt Wells is getting a good feel for who could be a big part of his team this fall.
Some extra notes and quotes from Thursday's scrimmage:
• Some extra faces in the receiving game: Brandon Swindall is quietly becoming a reliable target. At 6-foot-4, he has the build of a go-get-the-ball receiver, and now his hands are starting to match. He got six catches for 87 yards today, including a key grab on the second team's two-minute drill touchdown drive. He's been better at contested balls, an area of great need for the receiving corps.
"I continue to be impressed with Brandon," Wells said. "He is another guy that I think has earned himself a certain role that will be solidified during training camp."
Also, Travis Van Leeuwen had a good day with four catches, getting his helmet knocked off on at least one play but powering through. Dwayne Lorick had a 64-yard catch for a touchdown, and is physically imposing, but a fumble in the end zone raised more questions about his hands.
• Kyler Fackrell might be even better: He was a blur on Thursday, in on a lot of plays. He notably ran over Joe Hill while making a stand at the end zone that resulted in a missed field goal. A returning all-WAC first-teamer, it's starting to look like he could be the best returning player on defense.
"He is a lot thicker and he looks like a real linebacker," Wells said. "Kyler's got a bright, bright future ahead of him. I am really happy with him."
• Craig Harrison asserting himself: There's no question that Chuckie Keeton is the team's most valuable returning player, in part because no other quarterback on USU's roster right now can replicate what he does. With Adam Kennedy not participating this spring, the depth has been underwhelming, to say the least. Aside from a stunning long touchdown pass, Jordan Brown was off-target Thursday. Jeff Manning didn't impress before sitting out with an apparent sickness in the last week that could keep him out next week.
But Craig Harrison is at least putting a dog in the fight, going 13-for-16 on Thursday to try to get the backup role. His composure on the two-minute drill showed great strides, even if he's not close to Keeton in what he can do. He'll battle with incoming Darell Garretson this summer with the spot, but at least it's a battle.
"That's a battle that will go through all summer, all training camp, but Craig had a good day," Wells said.
• Secondary needs a ballhawk: No interceptions on Thursday might not be a big sign, but it was the second scrimmage the secondary hasn't come away with a pick. The last was by Zach Vigil. With Will Davis gone, the corners and safeties need to find a way to get more turnovers. The first unit has picks in practice, but not many in scrimmage situations. It should be interesting to watch if anyone in that unit finds a way to get their hands on a few more throws. The quarterback execution hasn't been THAT flawless.
• Special teams still has work to do: The team had its second day of kickoff drills on Thursday, and the return unit seemed plenty more ready for action than the coverage group. Nevin Lawson, Jojo Natson and Travis Reynolds all appeared to have returns that would've gone for touchdowns. There was a little bit of shying from full-fledged tackles - nobody wants to get hurt during a special teams drill - but there were definitely some big holes, and the kickoffs were travelling short of the end zone. Wells acknowledged there's a good deal of fine-tuning to be done.
"We've done it in phases and the kick off return - that is just the second day we've done it," he said. "Still training some guys and it wasn't a full speed deal, so we'll continue to work on it."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon