This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
The Utah State football team takes the field tomorrow for its annual spring exhibition, an event expected to draw several thousand Aggie fans to Romney Stadium to see what the Matt Wells era might look like.
There's a lot of returning talent and coaches, so don't expect too much to change. But aside from the unique format, here's some things fans can watch for:
Looking for red zone targets • The Utah State passing unit has been best when its moving between the 20s, and sometimes those last few yards to the end zone have been a challenge. If Joe Hill can't move the rock on the front seven, it falls to the receiving corps to pick up some tough catches. Who is the guy? Travis Van Leeuwen, Jojo Natson and Brandon Swindall have all made good plays at one time or another on critical downs, but at least one must be consistent.
Playmakers needed in the secondary • Matt Wells even mentioned this in the school release today: He'd like to see a few more picks - and that's coming from a former quarterback. Nevin Lawson and Tay Glover-Wright have to get a few more hands on passes in their one-on-one match-ups. Maurice Alexander has a way to go with his ball skills converting from a linebacker. Deeper in the depth chart, some players who have had chances at interceptions simply need to finish the play.
Total trench warfare • The offensive and defensive lines are huge strengths for Utah State, although Tyler Larsen has been out for the O. But it will be telling to see who gets the best push up front in a game setting, especially with a third-and-short situation. Will it be the offense, with almost all returning starters to block? Or will it be the defense, which has some dynamic playmakers who can get in the backfield?
Kicking straight • After a few heart-breakers last season against Wisconsin and BYU, the Aggies know the value of a good field goal unit. Nick Diaz and Josh Thompson can instill some confidence in the special teams and Utah State's ability to win close games.
Staying healthy • Maybe the most important part of the game. Nagging injuries and ailments can be a slight concern at the end of camp. Best not to turn that into something more serious. They'll be hitting on the field, but they'll be picking each other up, too.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon