Logan • From his always-short haircut to the confident stride in his walk, Gary Andersen looks, sounds and acts like he always has during his tenure as Utah State’s head coach.
One thing is different, however.
Utah State camp
Who’s there » Kelvin “Mookie” Lee, a running back from Mainland High in Daytona Beach, enters the program as a late signee. He was officially added to the roster last week.
Who isn’t there » Interior linemen BJ Larsen, Bryce Walker, Eric Bernston and Bill Vavau all have injuries or academic issues.
Friday » First practice runs from 2:15-4:15 p.m.
Aug. 9 » First two-a-day practice
Aug. 11 » First scrimmage, 10 a.m.
Aug. 18 » Second scrimmage, 2 p.m.
Aug. 30 » Season opener vs. Southern Utah University
As he addressed reporters on Thursday morning, one couldn’t help but notice the size of his shiny new ring, the one the Aggies received for their bowl appearance last season. More than anything, it’s symbolic of how far Utah State has come in the last few years.
"Our expectation has increased," Andersen would say.
As fall camp starts on Friday afternoon, USU is a more accomplished football program, and one that expects to take an even bigger step this season. The Aggies no longer have Robert Turbin, Michael Smith and Bobby Wagner. But depth at every position has helped yield more hope than ever before, as USU embarks on a journey it believes can end with the first Western Athletic Conference title in school history.
Or so it hopes.
"We feel good about what we’ve done this summer and the progress we’ve made," senior quarterback Adam Kennedy said. "The guys have worked hard this summer. We’ve made strides since the spring, and we’ve made preparations for what’s to come."
In doing so, the veterans rounded up the newcomers to hold players-only workouts. It helps that most of the team was on campus this summer. It gave the players a chance to bond and to get used to one another.
As a result, the Aggies are ahead of where they were at this point a season ago. On Friday, instead of implementing the new spread offense, Utah State can open the playbook, an advantage over last year and one that could be helpful with its season-opener against Southern Utah just 27 days away.
"Everyone is ready to go," senior running back Kerwynn Williams said. "We’re excited about the challenges that lie ahead. We think we can be a very good team this season."
There are questions and injury issues. Both interior lines have been hit with significant injuries. Offensive lineman Bryce Walker, out of Pleasant Grove, will be gone at least a month with a broken leg. Defensive end Eric Bernston, a returned missionary from Sky View, had surgery on his leg and is out for the season. Junior college transfer Bill Vavau is still at Snow College trying to finish up classes. He may not make it to Logan until January.
With the skill positions looking talented and deep, the issues on both lines loom large.
On Friday, the answers will begin to trickle forth.
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