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Utah State football keeping players on their toes with practice changes

Published April 8, 2013 9:43 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • Especially in spring, practice can crystalize around a routine. From one drill to the next, the pattern can reinforce a factory-like staleness.

The Utah State coaching staff has an answer: break the routine.

When the Aggies, for example, take on an unexpected scheduling adjustment by playing full-team, full-contact drills in the middle of practice instead of building up to it for the end, it makes the environment a little more lively. Monday's change-up went well, coach Matt Wells said.

"We came in early, thudded it up," he said. "Did the team stuff in the middle and more of the individual at the end to change up the monotony and change up the routine a little bit. We threw in a little bit of adversity, and they responded well."

Monday's team focus was essentially a two-down drill, with the offense running a second-down play and then trying to convert third down. The offense went 3-for-3, Wells said, so he's looking for more from the defense.

"Defensively, what you got to do is the opposite of the offense," he said. "They gotta play really good on first and second down, put the offense to a medium to long situation."

There were some good moments from Travis Van Leeuwen and Keegan Andersen in 7-on-7 drills, with both making multiple catches in traffic.

Wells said there's no single "go-to" candidate among the receiving options on third-down situations, but he's appreciated the way Chuckie Keeton, in particular, has been spreading his throws around to different receivers. D.J. Tialevea and Brandon Swindall also got a bunch of looks in 7-on-7 practice.

"I think Chuckie is basically going through his progressions, and he's doing a nice job distributing the ball and managing what is called," Wells said. "Matt Austin was the main guy in the red zone, but I think we're going to miss Kellen Bartlett and Cam Webb just as much as Matt Austin on third downs."

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon