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USU football: Offensive line a major focus this offseason

Published March 15, 2017 12:00 am

USU football • He says only competition is with himself.
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Logan • While Utah State junior offensive lineman Quin Ficklin has earned time with the first-team offense at center, he's not focused on position battles at this point in his brief tenure with the program.

The Aggies began their second week of spring practice by getting outside on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium on Tuesday. They were outside for the first time, and in full pads for the second time.

Ficklin, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound transfer from BYU, joined the Aggies this winter. He redshirted his first season in Provo before taking two years off to serve a Mormon mission. He spent the past two seasons as a backup center and extra fullback. He played in seven games this past fall.



"I don't think of it as competing against somebody else. I think of it as competing against myself," said Ficklin, a resident of Mesa, Ariz. "If I can work hard and I can be one of those five guys, there'll be a spot for me. If somebody else can be one of this five guys, there's going to be a spot for them. I don't look at my teammates and think I have to beat him. At the end of the day it's about Utah State. It's not about Quin Ficklin."

The offensive line will be a major area of concentration for the coaching staff this offseason. The Aggies must replace a three-year starters Austin Stephens and Jake Simonich, a two-year starter in Austin Albrecht and a one-year starter in Jude Hockel.

The 12 remaining players from last year's offensive line unit have started a grand total of 16 games. Senior tackle Preston Brooksby started 11 games last season (eight at right tackle, three at left tackle), and KJ Uluave started four games at right guard.

With a new offensive system being installed by new offensive coordinator David Lost, all of the linemen are learning on the fly this spring and getting acclimated to the up-tempo, no-huddle approach.

"We believe we're going to be the focal point of this offense," Ficklin said. "Go fast. Go hard. You can't do that without good offensive line blocking. We're having good work, good leadership by some guys who are returning. KJ Uluave is doing a really good job. [Demytrick Ali'fua] has been really helpful to me. We've got some guys who just transferred in — Roman Andrus, myself and Rob Castanenda — these guys have been very welcoming."

Andrus also began his collegiate career at BYU, but as a defensive lineman. Andrus, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound native of California, spent last season as a defensive lineman at Snow College, a community college in Ephraim. Castaneda spent last season at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa.

Hobbs calls audible

Senior backup quarterback Damion Hobbs has moved to receiver/tight end.

Hobbs, who came to Utah State as a transfer after redshirting as a freshman at Oregon, practiced with the receivers Tuesday for the first time.

"It's something that he wanted to do," Wells said. "We'll see how it goes. I thought he did a couple good things out there today."

Hobbs, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound dual-threat QB, tied the school's single-game record (modern era) for touchdown runs by a quarterback with three at Wyoming on Nov. 5, 2016. He shares the mark with starter Kent Myers. In the past two seasons, Hobbs has gone 12 of 24 passing for 141 yards and rushed for 221 yards on 44 carries.

Hobbs' move seems to open the door for redshirt freshman Jordan Love to claim the backup quarterback job.

lworthy@sltrib.com Twitter: @LWorthySports

 

 

 

 

 

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