Logan • The last few starts have left Todd Orlando scratching his head.
Utah State's first-year defensive coordinator knows he has a veteran unit, they just don't always show it right away. And after a few first-half struggles in the last few games, he's trying to get to the root of the problem.
"For some reason we've started off games kind of crazy," he said after Tuesday's practice. "I don't know if it's an adjustment or whether it's just playing on the road. â¦ There was a stretch it looked very sloppy, and we were just cutting guys loose back there."
The first few minutes against Air Force went as well as could be expected for Utah State, as Zach Vigil forced a fumble leading to an Aggies touchdown drive. But some of the secondary breakdowns were "bothersome," Orlando said, and he's looking for a cleaner effort against Weber State on Saturday.
The top priority is reducing penalties. The team can live with an aggressive hit or two, but the pass-interference calls and a holding call on Air Force's first touchdown drive were inexcusable, he said. Seniors Nevin Lawson and Cam Sanders were two of the offenders on the drive.
"It's all correctable stuff, just fundamentals and techniques," he said. "But to be grabbing a receiver, lining up offside, we can take care of that stuff. We can't keep doing that."
Fackrell getting looks on offense
At practice, Kyler Fackrell still wears No. 52. But fans were quick to notice in games, the sophomore has been wearing No. 9.
That's because the Aggies have been working in their star linebacker as a tight end on certain goal-line sets. With his new number, Fackrell can check in on offense freely, and Utah State has a 6-foot-5 end zone threat.
"I played receiver in high school, so I guess they wanted someone to throw fades to in the end zone," Fackrell said.
At Mesa High in Arizona, Fackrell was a do-it-all athlete who caught 36 passes for 662 yards as a senior with five touchdowns. He was an all-region honoree on offense, paired with his all-region honors at linebacker.
He hasn't been targeted yet on a throw, and was merely a blocker for Joey DeMartino's touchdown run on an appearance against Air Force. But that doesn't stop his fellow linebackers from screaming for Chuckie Keeton to toss him a score.
"They assume it's going to me every time I switch over," Fackrell said. "They're calling my name, calling it out."
USC game time announced
One of Utah State football's big games finally has a starting time.
The Aggies will kick off in Los Angeles against the USC Trojans at 1:30 MDT on Saturday, Sept. 21. The game will air on the ABC or ESPN family of networks, possibly as a regional game.
The Trojans dropped out of the top 25 rankings this week after falling to Washington State on Saturday night.