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Utah State football: Passing game takes off in scrimmage

Published August 15, 2013 11:00 am

College football • QB Keeton throws 3 TDs.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Logan • Even after he had hauled in a touchdown pass, even after he had gained 47 yards on four catches on the day, receiver Jojo Natson still wasn't satisfied.

In the two-minute drill, the last possession of the day, the defense had stopped the first-team offense about 25 yards shy of the end zone. And it bugged him.

"I want to get a touchdown," Natson said. "We drove the ball down there, so it's like why not punch it in. But we're gonna get that down pat. We're gonna be good."

The offense put some power behind that confidence on Wednesday afternoon, as Chuckie Keeton led the way with three touchdowns and 172 yards passing in Utah State's second fall camp scrimmage.

After finishing Saturday without a touchdown pass, Keeton led the explosive plays with scoring passes to D.J. Tialavea, Travis Reynolds and Natson. The first-string offense looked smooth running up and down the field against the second-string defense, churning out a 75-yard scoring drive on the opening possession and following up with scoring drives of 61 yards, 25 yards and 12 yards.

Coach Matt Wells took his offense's success with an even keel.

"That's what we're used to around here," he said. "That will be the standard. That will be the expectation every Saturday."

The first-team wide receivers did a lot of work to shore up any pre-camp question marks, as Travis Van Leeuwen, Reynolds and Natson all had good catches. Freshman Hayden Weichers also stood out Wednesday, nabbing a 42-yard pass that took the Aggies into the red zone on the first drive.

Defensively, the top unit pitched a shutout against the offensive reserves. Kyler Fackrell against stood out rushing the passer, finishing with three sacks. Paul Piukala blocked a field-goal attempt.

The defense even got the last laugh against the first-team offense, sacking Keeton twice on the final two-minute drill. Although Tavaris McMillan was to be one of the defenders in on that final fourth-down snap, he acknowledged he hoped for better performances in the future.

"We expect to be a top-of-the-line defense, every play and every down," he said. "We let up on a couple of plays, especially in the red zone where they had some explosives. We'd like to eliminate that, then it would be a solid day."

The run game didn't fair as well as the Aggies' aerial attack: Freshman Kennedy Williams led all rushers with 17 yards. The defense combined for 13 total tackles for a loss, including seven sacks.

Wells said he's continuing to evaluate the backup quarterbacks, who as a whole struggled. Darrell Garretson, Jeff Manning, Craig Harrison and Jordan Brown combined for only 78 passing yards, but did not throw any picks.

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon —

Wednesday's scrimmage standouts

Chuckie Keeton •Â 172 yards passing, 13 yards rushing, 3 passing TDs

Jojo Natson •Â four catches, 47 yards receiving, 15 yards rushing, one receiving touchdown

Kyler Fackrell • four tackles for a loss, including three sacks