Utah State football: Aggies show energy despite travel delays
Utah State notes • Coach satisfied with first practice in run-up to bowl game.
Published: December 23, 2013 08:47PM
Updated: December 23, 2013 11:17PM

San Diego • Adverse weather and long delays kept many Utah State players cooling their heels on Sunday evening. The Aggies arrived late, with the second group not getting to the hotel until 3:30 a.m.

Coach Matt Wells said he was impressed that many of his players handled it well ­even as the team was going through security screening a second time.

“I heard a bunch of the defensive players say, ‘Sudden change, sudden change,’ just like when they say it when there is an interception or turnover,” Wells said. “So I thought they had a good sense of humor about it.”

But even Wells wouldn’t have liked it if the effects of travel had his team running in slow motion in practice Monday morning. To his even greater pleasure, the Aggies had an energized practice at San Diego State’s facility to start the week.

Wells described the session as “spirited,” saying it was a good start to what he hopes is a constructive and focused build-up to Thursday’s game against Northern Illinois.

“Our kids didn’t flinch one bit, and I was proud of them,” he said. “It was good to break a sweat today.” Utah State has practices scheduled at San Diego State each morning this week. Wells said the schedule was deliberately adapted to force players to work early in the day, then relax and enjoy some of the bowl week events.

LB Doughty honored

The Utah State football team spent lunch aboard the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier, where the team captains, coaches and athletic directors sat in front of a gathering of teams, fans and bowl volunteers.

Linebacker Jake Doughty, sitting at the front table, knew he would be in the spotlight, but still managed to be taken by surprise.

Bowl official Mark Neville announced that the two teams had each voted a player to receive the title of Most Inspirational, and Neville announced Doughty had won the award for Utah State — a football inscribed with his name. The senior linebacker had no idea he was to be honored.

“It’s a privilege to be around such a great group of people to be around,” he said. “To be thought of as a guy who works hard and does things right is an honor.”

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon