USU football: Aggies' linebackers have talent, chemistry
Logan •Joe Lorig, Utah State's new linebackers coach, said he did his research on the Aggies before making the decision to leave Arizona State and join Matt Wells' staff in Logan.
"I knew I was stepping into a good situation," he said.
The Aggies haven't let him down.
The linebacking unit is expected to be the strength of the Aggies' defense this year, with returning starters Kyler Fackrell, Nick Vigil and Zach Vigil leading the way.
The Aggies won't have Alex Huerta with them this year due to a shoulder injury, but LT Filiaga, a transfer from Utah, has had a strong camp and will get plenty of playing time.
"It's a veteran group with a lot of character and leadership," Lorig said. "There is always room for improvement, but I'm pleased with the progress."
Lorig said that character is just as important to him as a player's physical attributes.
"I don't care about size," he said. "It's the mental makeup and character. I want them to play fast and physical."
Lorig believes the linebackers will help set the tone at Tennessee when the Aggies play the Vols in the opener.
Our deal is to go in there and not be intimidated by the situation or the big crowd," he said. "At the end of the day, they are going to have good players we know that, that is no mystery. But we have good players, too. And really it's not always the team that has the big four- and five-star recruits that win, but the team who has the best team on that day, and I think we have a pretty good football team."
One defensive lineman who has stood out in camp has been junior nose guard Travis Seefeldt, who played in 12 games last year but is expected to have a greater role this season.
He has lived up to expectations so far with his aggressive play in camp.
Seefeldt said he knew the pressure would be on him.
"I knew I'd be expected to be a leader," he said. "It's a big challenge and I think I've stepped up to the plate, working on leadership roles, confidence and getting myself going every day."
Seefeldt acknowledged the defense had a special chemistry last year but the Aggies don't expect that to carry over to this season.
They need to establish a new one.
"It starts with the first series on defense against Tennessee," he said. "That will define who we are."
After Friday's practice, Wells said that the secondary is coming together as a unit.
"They are playing more aggressive, but it will be a little bit by committee for a while," he said.
Freshman corner Jalen Davis continues to stand out in practice, noted safety Brian Suite.
"He is one of the best athletes on the field," he said.
Utah State's defense has the attention of the Vols, with offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian noting this week on UTSports.com that the Aggies' physical style was evident on video.
"They're a well-coached defense, and you can tell they play hard," he said. "You know, we emphasize to our guys about being different with our level of effort, and those guys, I think, buy into the same type of mentality. So we've challenged our guys with it being our effort and our style of play versus their style of play."
Utah State at Tennessee
O Aug. 31, 5 p.m.
TV • SEC Network