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Utah State football: Joey DeMartino following in predecessors' footsteps

Published November 26, 2013 6:15 pm

College football • Former special-teamer closing in on 1,000-yard rushing season.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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 • In the last few years, Utah State has produced some exceptionally productive and talented running backs: Robert Turbin, Michael Smith, Kerwynn Williams.

Anyone who bet a year ago that Joey DeMartino would be the latest in that lineage looks like Nostradamus today. A special-teamer this time last season, the senior is only 88 yards away from becoming the Aggies' 17th 1,000-yard rusher ever and the program's fourth in the last five years.

"It's just kind of a big deal; once you come in, they pound it into your head that we're supposed to be the main component of the offense," he said. "Getting 1,000 yards and just to be in the club with them is a big deal for me."

The San Diego native has dealt with multiple injuries throughout his career, but DeMartino also acknowledges that part of his slow integration in the program was his own willingness to work.

Coach Matt Wells said he thought DeMartino "flipped" in the middle of last season as he helped the special teams unit solidify in the run to the WAC title. Since then, Wells said, he's been a different player. That was on display as he rushed for more than 100 yards for the fifth time on Saturday.

"Hats off to Joey — he ran tough," Wells said. "There were times there weren't very big holes or seams. You learn to make those sometimes and will your way through as a running back. It may not be real pretty or make highlight reels, but it moves the chains and keeps the clock rolling."

DeMartino, who trained over the summer with tight end D.J. Tialavea, said that he's been motivated by the injuries the team has suffered through. Tialavea's season-ending injury, for one, has kept his fire going.

"To see him not be able to play, I know how bad it kills him; he doesn't have to say much," DeMartino said. "He would be out there if he could do it. He played on a broken foot a few games; that says enough."

Bentrude coming off career game

At Utah State's news conference Monday, it was easy to see Jaron Bentrude as a meteorologist in the making.

The Aggies' junior punter talked about the pressure systems in the area, how he and the staff knew how windy the game would be, how he worked to judge which way his kicks would blow. With a mind that can process all the different factors he faced against Colorado State, it was no wonder Bentrude had the best game of his career.

He kicked eight punts that pinned the Rams within their own 20, and was as much a part of the shutout as a defense that stopped the run. Bentrude's accuracy and hangtime are big reasons why the Aggies boast the top-ranked punt coverage unit in the nation, which has given up negative-three yards.

"All week, the coaches put us in a good spot, practicing different situations for the wind," he said. "I think the level we prepared at showed on Saturday. Most of us didn't skip a beat; it was almost like there wasn't any wind out there."


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