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Steve Luhm and Lya Wodraska
Steve Luhm and Lya Wodraska cover Utah State athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. Lya Wodraska is on twitter at @LyaWodraska, Steve Luhm is on twitter at @sluhm

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Offensive playmakers step up for Utah State, plus other spring game notes

Logan • Rashad Hall really, really wanted to score the touchdown.

He knew his mom was in the stands. In the last scrimmage of the spring, this was his moment. The line had cleared a hole, and he was ahead of everyone.

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When he felt Devin Centers pull him down just shy of the goal line, he knew he would get some grief.

"Everybody on the sideline was like, 'What happened, what happened?'" he said. "Next time in the game, I gotta just pick it up and not get gassed out."

While the junior running back didn't quite get as far as he wanted, his 78-yard run will likely help Utah State's coaching staff sleep at night. The Aggies are looking to replace some of their biggest offensive playmakers this fall, and the numerous big-yardage gains on Saturday eased some worry.

The stat sheet helps tell the story, especially in the receiving corps. Looking down the list, the longest play each receiver had: 39 yards, 29 yards, 25 yards, 50 yards, 25 yards, 33 yards.

On only 11 completions, Darell Garretson showed he could chuck it with 221 yards through the air. One of the highlights was a 50-yard pass that Damoun Patterson just barely snatched in with his fingertips.

It wasn't just in the receiving game though - besides Hall's big run of the day, Karris Johnson ripped off a 62-yard dash, and Kennedy Williams had both a run and a catch of 25 yards or more. In the Aggies' scoring system for the spring, these "explosive plays" counted for extra points, which helped the offense overcome in the end.

"It was good to see Rashad Hall and Kennedy Williams get down hill, they did some really nice things out on the perimeter," Wells said. "Brandon Swindall continues to play well, I'm happy with him."

***

Centered on Centers

While Darell Garretson has quickly become one of Utah State's most high-profile players, Saturday's scrimmage ended with one of the team's other Chandler High (Ariz.) products getting some praise.

At 5-foot-9, sophomore Devin Centers has been moved around a bit in the defensive secondary, most recently to bolster the safety position. He stood out on Saturday, with a pick, a forced fumble and four tackles to round out a breakthrough spring.

Centers came on last year as a special teams standout, blocking kicks against BYU and Boise State midseason. With his playmaking this spring, the Aggies are coming to view him as a potential asset in more roles this fall.

"He's going to be a really good player for us on defense," Matt Wells said. "The big thing is that he's playing with such confidence, you can just see it by the way he carries himself. A lot of that started with special teams last year."

Centers' most recent home is safety, but he's played corner as well. It's not nailed down where exactly he'll play come fall, but he didn't indicate he had a prefrence on Saturday.

"Wherever they need me to play at, they're going to send me in there, and I'm going to compete and do what we need to get it done," he said. "I'm a team player. I'll do whatever it takes for us to get the win."

***

Wells talks contract extension

On Thursday, the Aggies announced that coach Matt Wells had been extended until 2018 with a contract that guarantees annual raises as well as raises for his assistants.

Asked about it on Saturday, Wells was hardly self-congratulatory. He emphasized that his focus has been on validating his contract, which the university has said could pay him up to about $800,000 annually with incentives.

"It is nice - it's a pat on the back - but we're not just going to sit around and accept them," he said. "They like seeing me here because I'm alumni, but that doesn't win games. This alumni better win games. They know it, we know it, and our players know it."

Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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