Utah State football: As Garretson grows, offense picking up slack
Logan • If he could give Darell Garretson reps from sunrise to sunset, offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven would.
As things stand, McGiven will have to settle for as much practice as he can give his freshman quarterback, who now has one win in as many starts. A bye week has helped headed into this weekend's match-up with Hawaii.
"The more snaps he can take, the better," McGiven said. "He needs 1000 reps of everything we've got. The bye week has been good, not just game planning for Hawaii, but for getting ready for the rest of the year."
Utah State's season outlook may well hinge on if Garretson can provide a consistent downfield threat. Against New Mexico in a 45-10 win, he was efficient and didn't give the ball away progress from a painful two-interception debut against Boise State.
But the success of the attack is about the whole offense, not just the quarterback. The coaching staff is trying to coax more out of the surrounding cast: the receivers, the running backs, the offensive line. In a league with a lot of high-scoring teams, Utah State has to be able to get into the end zone with some regularity if they hope to win their final four games.
Nothing has changed in what the offense does, running back Joey DeMartino said, they just have to do more of it.
"I still do the same routines, practice the same things," he said. "I just know my job and try to do it."
Among the calls to action have been increased physicality up front. Utah State still has longtime senior starters in Tyler Larsen, Jamie Markosian, Eric Schultz and Kevin Whimpey and they want opponents to remember it.
One of the big goals against the Lobos was to establish that physicality early with the run game, to set New Mexico back on its heels. The first play was an eight-yard touchdown run by DeMartino that made things a little easier on everyone.
"There's always some different looks you get every game, but it's about getting that established up front," McGiven said. "You want to own the line of scrimmage."
While the running game takes some load off of Garretson, he's still on the learning curve. Matt Wells and McGiven said they haven't changed the offense for their new quarterback, but they've slimmed down some of the things they do.
McGiven said each week, once the staff determines what concepts could work against their opponent, they give Garretson a chance to run them all. The ones he can execute in practice, they keep. The ones he can't they'll take out.
"We don't really change anything, we just want to identify what he can do," McGiven said. "This way, he gets a chance to prove what he can do. We can find out what he's comfortable."
Ultimately, Utah State strives for the equilibrium in running and passing that they had with Chuckie Keeton at the helm. In his first year, Garretson may not be able to do it all. But the Aggies will lean harder on everyone to keep up the offensive effort.
"We want to run the football, we want to establish that," McGiven said. "But we want to maintain our balance as well."
Hawaii at Utah State
O Saturday, 2 p.m.
TV • CBS Sports Network
By the number
The Aggies still have some categories where they stand out nationally, despite playing the past few weeks without quarterback Chuckie Keeton:
Scoring offense • 35.5 ppg (No. 35)
Rushing offense • 208.2 ypg (No. 29)
Total offense • 461.6 ypg (No. 38)
Completion percentage • 64.1 percent (No. 31)