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Utah State mailbag — hoops defense, football up-and-comers, and more

Published October 28, 2013 3:28 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

November starts this week, and with basketball exhibitions ongoing and football in the hunt for a bowl bid, we're neck-deep in fall sports. It's exciting and busy, but there's a lot that can be missed, a lot of questions that may go unanswered.

Here's the Monday Mailbag to help answer some of these questions. We're kicking off with basketball this week because, well, why not?

Please remember you can tweet questions at me over the weekend, or you can e-mail me at kgoon@sltrib.com. With that, let's get going:

who looks like they could step up on defense for basketball? We need some lock-down defenders. - @BryanDaines

Just to illuminate you guys on how upset Stew Morrill was last week, when asked who stood out for the Aggies, he said no one. His team had just scored 108 points, but he was focused on the 88 Utah State gave up. Morrill is a defense-first kind of guy.

And looking at this performace, there is great reason to be concerned. It doesn't seem likely that Utah State will rack up 16 personal fouls in one half again, but if they do, the depth can dry up at power forward and center. And Morrill's right about this: No one really stood out on the defensive end.

I think that Jarred Shaw and Jordan Stone really need to do a lot to protect the rim for Utah State to succeed this year. Shaw was a bit better Friday than he has in the past, and he wound up with three blocks. But he's not the post defender Kyisean Reed was, and he may not be, but he needs to be closer to it. The main thing Stone brings is a defensive and rebounding presence, so he needs to maximize that. When you look at the talent slashers in this league, the Aggies will need their big men to deny easy access to the lane.

I also see Danny Berger and Jalen Moore as potential stoppers. Berger just has such length, and he's gained some strength. He seems to be remaking his image a bit as a hustler who can work inside the post. Moore is similarly long, and also very athletic. I wonder if his versatility - he guarded all positions in high school - can perhaps help him get more time as a defensive stopper. He has all the potential to do it.

Of course, no one individual player is going to make this team great at defense. It's going to require some dedication and coordination. I wouldn't be surprised if you saw an immediate improvement in this second exhibition Friday against Adams State. Sometimes you just need your ear chewed out.

Stew has limited his rotation to 8-9 players in years past. Does he intend to change that this year given the lack of red shirts? - @aggies1_fan

First of all, keep in mind that Morrill has said he intends to redshirt only one player. He may redshirt three. He may redshirt none. Things change quickly and fluidly during the season. I see him staying on his present course of at least playing Jojo McGlaston, and perhaps Viko Noma'aea if he thinks either of them can make an impact. Jury is still out on that.

I think the coaching staff is expecting not to redshirt many players in part because of the conference change. They're anticipating some tough battles in the Mountain West schedule, and recognize that they may need to go deep into the bench to finish out some of these games. Utah State doesn't really have the one shining star who will carry the team and keep them competitive in a game no matter what (sorry Jarred, Preston and Spencer), so their edge might well have to be throwing in a versatile mix of athletes who all do different things.

I think Utah State is headed into the conference believing it will challenge them physically beyond what they experienced in the WAC. It requires a new level of training and conditioning, a new level of focus and execution, and everyone will have to be ready to come in - freshman or not. Also, consider that some of the newcomers, such as McGlaston and Noma'aea, were recruited after the Aggies moved to the Mountain West. Utah State wants to get them up to speed and involved.

I heard that the football team held a scrimmage last Thursday (during the bye week) for the younger guys. Curious if you know who stood out in that scrimmage and who has been standing out on the scout team thus far this year? - Rhett

Yes, I asked about that today. Here's Wells on that: "I saw some flashes of Tyshon Mosley. Austin Stephens, the center, I liked some things he did. Rashad Hall flashed a little bit at me. [Hayden] Weichers and [Tyler] Weese at receiver, I saw some good stuff. I liked Myron Turner in the back end. Those guys stuck out the most."

That was really the most we got about the scrimmage. None of those names really surprise me, although Tyler Weese pricks my ears a bit. Mosley, Stephens, Hall, Weichers and Turner all had high expectations coming to Utah State. All are on track to redshirt this year, but I suspect we'll see at least a few of them on the field more next year — especially since almost the whole offensive line is graduating. That will be a fun mailbag question for next season!

Thanks for the questions, we'll be back next week.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon