Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
University of Tennessee coach Butch Jones poses with players including Brian Randolph (37) and A.J. Johnson (45) during football media day Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)
Utah State football: Aggies know all about Vols’ ‘beast’
Utah State football notes » Tennessee linebacker Johnson “needs to be accounted for.”
First Published Aug 28 2014 08:39 am • Last Updated Aug 28 2014 11:33 pm

Logan • Utah State’s offensive players kept noticing one number popping up time and time again when watching film of the Tennessee Vols’ defense — No. 45.

That the number of A.J.Johnson would stand out to the Aggies is of no surprise. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Johnson is regarded as one of the top linebackers in the nation.

At a glance

Utah State at Tennessee

Sunday, 5:06 p.m.

TV » SEC Network

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

He is on every major preseason award watch list after earning All-SEC honors last year.

Out of the 36 games he has played, he finished 18 with double-figure tackles and ranked third in the SEC last year with 8.8 tackles per game. He also led the team with 8.5 tackles for loss.

"He’s a good player, and I feel like we’ve got to challenge him," said USU running back Joe Hill.

Known as "the beast," by Vols fans, Johnson surprised many by returning to Tennessee rather than leaving for the pros. Count the Aggies as being among those who probably wouldn’t have minded seeing him go, since game-planning sure would be a lot easier without him around on Sunday when the teams meet in Knoxville.

"You look at them on defense and A.J. Johnson is everywhere on tape," Utah State coach Matt Wells said. "It doesn’t matter what game you pull up, No. 45 is there on the screen. The guy needs to be accounted for, or he’ll be All-SEC by the end of Sunday."

Brace yourself

Both Hill and quarterback Chuckie Keeton have been wearing knee braces on their surgically repaired knees in practice. The two maintain the braces are more for mental comfort than a physical need and plan to wear them in games.


story continues below
story continues below

Hill said on Monday he has downgraded to a smaller brace.

"It’s a much tighter fit, and I can move my knee and leg much better than with the bigger one," he said.

Sunday, fun day

The opener against Tennessee is just the fourth time in USU history that the program will play on a Sunday. The Aggies played on back-to-back Sundays in December 1971 in Japan against two Japanese All-Star teams, and the 1978 team played against Idaho State — also in Japan.

Both Wells and Utah State’s players said playing on the Sabbath wasn’t a big deal to them. Wells welcomed the chance to get TV coverage since the only other game being played on Sunday is SMU at Baylor.

The Utah State-Tennessee game will be televised by the SEC Network, which is debuting this season.

"To be able to play in that atmosphere, in front of that audience is just an opportunity more than anything to expose our program and show the country what we’ve done," Wells said.

This and that

The Aggies are 11-5 in their last 16 road games. … With Alex Huerta sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Aggies have moved Nick Vigil to outside linebacker and Utah transfer LT Filiaga will start inside along with Zach Vigil.

lwodraska@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.