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Utah State football: Defense shines as QB battle goes on

Published August 11, 2012 3:21 pm

USU football • Aggies' defensive front impressive in rushing the passer.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • The whispers began making the rounds of Romney Stadium midway through Utah State's first scrimmage on Saturday morning.

By the time Gary Andersen began to address the media in the moments following, the whispers had turned into full-throated questions.

"Is your defense really that good?"

On a day when many USU fans showed up to catch a glimpse of the quarterback battle between Adam Kennedy and Chuckie Keeton, a swift and opportunistic defense surprised all in attendance. The Aggies had more interceptions on Saturday — five — than they did all of last season (four).

A defensive front maligned during the spring put pressure on the quarterbacks all scrimmage and never really let the running game establish itself. And the depth and speed in the secondary was evident during the 90-minute session.

"We did some good things defensively," Andersen said.

"At the same time," he added, "I thought we struggled to pass protect offensively a little bit. Coming into camp, the two questions were can we pass protect and can we generate a push defensively. I thought we did well in one area and struggled in the other. We will analyze the tape of this scrimmage for hours. But I definitely think the defense did some good things."

Kyler Fackrell made waves among his teammates with a great spring as a redshirt freshman linebacker. Bojay Filimoeatu went so far as to call him a "potential superstar" a few days ago. He backed that vote of confidence up with two sacks and three hurries on Saturday, showing promise as a 6-foot-5 pass rusher off the edge.

Al Lapuaho had a pair of sacks, as the defense generated nine in all to complement the interception count. Jumanne Robertson, McKade Brady, Devin Centers, Cam Sanders and Willie Davis came up with the interceptions.

"I thought we did well to put pressure on the offense," Fackrell said. "We wanted to come out as a defense and just play as hard as we could. We knew if we did that, the results would come."

Offensively, Keeton got the better of Kennedy, throwing two touchdown passes and completing 11 of 17 throws for 113 yards without an interception. He was the only quarterback who didn't turn the ball over. Kennedy threw two interceptions and struggled with some of his throws, although offensive coordinator Matt Wells said that Kennedy had been playing well in practice the last few days.

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tonyaggieville —

Scrimmage recap

• Travis Van Leeuwen and Travis Reynolds each catch touchdown passes.

• Joe Hill scores the only rushing touchdown.

• The defense comes up with five interceptions.