Utah State football mailbag DeMartino's role, pass rush against USC and more
Going in for our second shot at the Utah State mailbag. You can e-mail or tweet at me with your most pressing Aggies football questions, and I'll take a crack at them here on the Aggieville blog.
Remember, you can get at me anytime between Saturday night and Monday afternoon to submit questions @kylegoon on Twitter, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For now, let's get into some questions:
any chance [Joey] DiMartino [sic] starts taking more carries away from [Joe] Hill? Been much more impressed with him through 3 games - @JEinOKC
If you look at the stats, you can see that DeMartino has taken on a big load, if not necessarily a full 50 percent of the carries. Hill has 39 carries for 188 yards, DeMartino has 21 carries for 155 yards (not to mention four TDs, although three came against Weber State). Don't forget that a big chunk of DeMartino's yards came on a 60-yard burst, also, but he's been very solid.
It's a pretty solid running back by committee at this point, and it sounds like neither Hill nor DeMartino is being possessive of the "featured back" title. Hill is still the guy for outside runs, passing on screens and has the most speed. DeMartino is the change-of-pace, between-the-tackles runner who should get his fair share of snaps, and might be the better blocker on passing downs (that will be a huge key this weekend, for what it's worth).
DeMartino on the split: "To me, it doesn't matter who the featured back is. If it's Joe Hill, I love it. ... It's never been a selfishness issue between us. We're all friends, we hang out. It's never about who is the featured back, it's about how we can contribute and who's hot that day with the rock in their hands. I don't think anybody's worried about who's starting at this point."
And Matt Wells also talked about it: "Right now both those guys are going to play quite a bit. ... They're 50-snap guys, multiple carries. They feed off each other, and I think they're a good 1-2 combo. I think they compliment each other well. Happy with Joey's progress, happy with Joe Hill. I think we've got two good running backs."
Also, the more backs, the better against USC: The Trojans have allowed only 43.7 rushing yards per game in three contests. One or both of the Joes has to stand out Saturday to give the Aggies a chance.
Saw some blitzes get home last night. Think Orlando will continue to put on pressure against USC or pack the zones. - @andybobbaker
I am slightly going out on a limb here, but I will guess that yes, the Aggies want to get pressure. USC's line hasn't been dominant this season, already allowing six sacks. Utah State's pressure hasn't been stellar against FBS opponents yet this year, but with the quarterback situation a little shaky, Cody Kessler is under a lot of pressure to succeed.
It wouldn't be a big suprise to see the Aggies try to come up with some pressures that will put Kessler under the gun to make his choices quickly. He's also thrown two picks this year, and so far Utah State has none. Pressure could help them get an edge in the turnover battle. And it doesn't seem like a good idea to sit back and let Marqise Lee shred a zone apart - better to try to get a hand in Kessler's face.
Said Wells on the importance of the pass rush: "When you can disrupt the quarterback's timing and disrupt the quarterback's vision, I think those are keys to stopping a passing game. You get him out of rhythm. The guy's not comfortable: You change his launch point, get him out of his comfort zone a little. Things flash in front of him. Those are keys disrupting a passing attack."
The thing I would worry about is how much the Trojans have relied on play action and screens in recent weeks. Can you hurt yourself by being over aggressive? That's possible. It only takes one breakdown for a player like Tre Madden to get to the end zone.
why [Matt Wells] pulled [Kennedy] William's [sic] redshirt now when there was no need. - @wmikewinters
At some point, you just stop saving for the future. While it's nice to have guys take a year to learn the system and keep more years of eligibility, the challenge is to win this year. If you have a player who can contribute this season, you might as well put him on the field and give him some game situations to work with.
That's the best answer I can surmise for why Kennedy Williams was on the field this week. The coaching staff has determined Williams is a guy who can help them, and they want to see what he can do live. And what do you know: He had a 44-yard kickoff return. And if not for an apparent hamstring tweak before Week 1, we might've seen him earlier.
You look at the Aggies' return game, and it's been OK, but not perfect. The other part of that is a lot of those returners already have starting roles: Tay Glover-Wright, Travis Reynolds, Jojo Natson, Nevin Lawson, Travis Van Leeuwen. It might behoove Utah State to look into getting a non-starter more involved on returns. Add that with Karris Johnson and Rashad Hall looking like they might not see the field this year, and is there a real need to redshirt another running back?
Here's Wells on Williams: "He put himself in position in training camp to earn some playing time, then kinda had a little tweak of a hamstring right before the Utah game, so he's been out a little bit. Kennedy's a solid performer: He's played well at running back, he's played well on special teams. He's earned every right to be a contributor."
That's all for the mailbag this week. Please keep sending your questions, and follow more Utah State sports coverage on the Aggieville blog and the main sports site building up to the game against USC.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon
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