Logan • If you're without a true center, Eric Schultz is a pretty good backup to have.
With Jamie Markosian in class during Wednesday's non-padded practice, Schultz took over snap duties on a windy, brisk afternoon at Romney Stadium. The 310-pound tackle can handle a nose guard pretty well.
Schultz, normally the right tackle for the Aggies, is one of the top returning linemen for Utah State, which will have five returning starters in the fall. And he knows just how high the expectations are for the veteran unit.
"I'm actually really hard on myself most of the time, and I strive for perfection every play," said Schultz, who was one of the top-graded performers on the team last season. "As a unit, I think we're solid. We have as good unity as I've seen since I've been here."
The senior was first-team all-WAC last season, and could be the next big Aggies NFL prospect this time next year. He said he's working on finishing out plays with effort and improving his conditioning to become a better all-around player.
But for now, Schultz's efforts are focused on helping Utah State have a splashy debut in the Mountain West. And for him, that starts with a big outing in Saturday's spring game for the offensive line.
"I hope we ball out," he said. "We want to be physical, nasty, and knock some guys down."
Special teams comes into focus
The Aggies wrapped up practice by putting some pressure on their field-goal units. The offense was directed to complete a pass with 20 seconds left, then the kicking unit had to dash on before the clock ran out.
Utah State fans should breathe a little easier knowing that the last three attempts were good: a 45-yarder and 31-yarder by Josh Thompson and a 43-yard boot by Nick Diaz. After a rugged start to the year last season on special teams, the kicking unit looked solid on a pressure drill with icy drafts swirling in the stadium.
"That was a pretty stiff breeze; it would've been easier to kick the other way," coach Matt Wells said. "It's positive, it was good to see."
The open-air practices have given the Aggies' new special teams coordinator, Dave Ungerer, a chance to get his guys properly prepared. Thompson said Ungerer's calm demeanor has helped breed confidence.
"It's a different momentum shift, and I personally like coach Ungerer a lot," Thompson said. "He's a type of guy who's relaxed, which is good for kickers."