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Utah State football: Senior running backs assume greater role

Published October 8, 2013 7:55 pm

Utah State notes • DeMartino, Marshall getting their turn to contribute.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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 • They came in together, the three running backs.

Joe Hill, Joey DeMartino and Robert Marshall became close over the years, celebrating one another's successes. But with Hill down for the year, DeMartino and Marshall find themselves having to pick up Utah State's run game without one of their closest teammates.

"Joe is a really good friend of mine, so it hurts seeing him go down," DeMartino said. "I took it upon myself to step up and keep playing while he's out. I know that's what he'd do if it were me in that situation too."

DeMartino's role as the team's featured back has solidified in Hill's absence, and Marshall has gotten more carries in recent weeks as a change-of-pace back. The two seniors have taken up the mantle under unenviable circumstances with Hill, the speedy and sure-handed back of the trio, out with an ACL tear.

Still, both DeMartino and Marshall are relishing the opportunity to play after waiting patiently behind Utah State's talented runners over the years.

"To see how we've grown as individuals and players is amazing," Marshall said. "It's our last year. It's no holding back. You gotta let everything go. I feel like it's been paying off to listen and do what I've been told to do. It feels good to do more."

DeMartino leads the team with 425 rushing yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and has scored four touchdowns. Marshall, a self-described "downhill, physical bruiser" is now the second-leading healthy rusher with 152 yards this season, and acknowledged he'll have to contribute in more ways.

" I just take that as we need to step up," Marshall said. "Nothing's going to change our running back group: We like to be physical and tough running the ball. As far as our offense goes, nothing is going to change."

Younger Vigil shifted into starting role

One of the quiet moves the Aggies made against BYU was starting freshman Nick Vigil at outside linebacker.

So quiet, Vigil didn't know himself until the day before. So quiet, he didn't even tell his parents.

Older brother Zach Vigil, who starts at middle linebacker, got some advance notice however. And he was business-like.

"He just said, 'You've got to have a day,' " Nick Vigil said. "He said, 'We need you, and you're gonna have to have a good game.' "

With those words as inspiration, the younger Vigil had an eight-tackle, half-sack performance against BYU. In a game with a fair share of disappointment, Vigil was one of the bright spots.

"There's already a good rotation there," coach Matt Wells said. "He has merited increased reps by his production. He played well again in a little more of an increased role Friday night."

Briefly

Utah State is still keeping Saturday's starting quarterback under wraps: Asked about how a different starter might affect the offense, DeMartino said, "Whoever suits up on Saturday, we'll be good." … Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said he believes safety Brian Suite should be able to play Saturday after suffering an undisclosed injury against BYU that took him out of the game. Suite said the move was precautionary.

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon —

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