Logan • The week has been dominated by finals, recruiting and more practice for younger players.
Really, senior running back Joey DeMartino said, the Aggies haven’t yet worried too much about Northern Illinois. They’ve been looking within, trying to heal the wounds of a long, bruising season.
Poinsettia BowlUtah State vs. Northern Illinois
Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m.
TV » ESPN
"It’s going to pick up soon," he said. "This week, it’s about getting everyone who has been playing the whole season healthy. I know it’s going to pick up a lot next week when we get our bodies back."
It’s also been a week of honors for Utah State.
The Aggies have received 14 all-conference nods, while coach Matt Wells was named Mountain West coach of the year. In addition to first-team conference honors, senior center Tyler Larsen was one of six national finalists for the Rimington Trophy and was named an All-American by USA Today.
Linebacker Jake Doughty and cornerback Nevin Lawson rounded out the first team, while defensive stalwarts A.J. Pataiali’i, B.J. Larsen, Zach Vigil and Kyler Fackrell got second-team honors. Seven other Aggies earned honorable mention.
A few Utah State players were caught unaware when the All-Mountain West teams came out.
"I was surprised by it — I saw it on Twitter," senior defensive tackle Pataiali’i said. "It put a smile on my face, and it made me know that I’m doing something right here."
While the younger guys got most of the practice reps this past week, the Aggie veterans will start cranking it up when practice resumes next week. USU also will host a handful of mostly out-of-state recruits this weekend, seeking commitments.
There is unfinished business on the mind of the veterans, who are eager to wipe away the foul feeling of losing after falling to Fresno State in the Mountain West championship. The Poinsettia Bowl matchup will be the final chance to make a mark for the senior class.
"For me [the loss is] still lingering," DeMartino said. "Being on a national stage and not getting a win hurts. We have a chance to redeem ourselves in San Diego, and we’ll look to do that."
DeMartino has the added bonus of being able to see his family — and visa versa. The 23-year-old was the star back at Mt. Carmel High, a 15-minute drive from Qualcomm Stadium where he’ll play on Dec. 26. A dozen other Aggies who hail from California also hope for some familial support for the game.
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