LOGAN, Utah — Utah State football played their first scrimmage of spring camp on Saturday.
Things started off well for the defense. They had three interceptions on four drives, picking off quarterbacks Cooper Legas twice and Levi Williams once. Cornerback and safeties Gurvan Hall Jr. and Ike Larsen grabbed the picks.
“We dominated, dominated the offense come that first half,” defensive end Byron Vaughns said. “I feel like the defense did good today. Came out with a lot of momentum, a lot of energy.”
The defensive line stepped up next by pressuring Legas and Wiliams. Vaughns, and fellow defensive end Daniel Grzesiak, would have had sacks if they could hit the quarterbacks. Vaughns joked that their red, non-contact jerseys take his “killer instinct” out.
“Come game time I know it’s going to be the real deal,” Vaughns said.
Head coach Blake Anderson was not impressed with the early interceptions, but he “was pleased with the way the offense responded once we worked red zone.” He also liked the performances of running backs Calvin Tyler Jr. and Pailate Makakona.
“I saw physical runs out of both,” Anderson said. “In a scrimmage today, probably not a big deal, but in a game, the difference between me having to go for it on fourth-and-two and being able to move the chains, that’s big.”
The first touchdown came during a red zone situational drill 47 minutes in. It was a pass from Legas to wide receiver NyNy Davis. Davis showed flashes of speed and agility during the scrimmage. Toward the end of practice, he grabbed another impressive touchdown.
“For a freshman, I think he’s made some good strides for us and hopefully, I don’t know if he’s (Deven Thompkins), but he can fill in some of the holes that DT left,” Anderson said.
Junior college transfer Terrell Vaughn was another wide receiver who impressed. His first score came on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Levi Williams. Toward the end of the scrimmage, Vaughn broke through two tacklers to waltz into the endzone. He received recognition from fellow wide receiver Brian Cobbs, who said Vaughn “put guys on ice” with a juke during the scrimmage.
“That’s my boy. I knew he had a little shift to him,” Cobbs said. “We’ve seen him make those plays since day one of spring ball, so that’s nothing new to us, but we know the kind of excitement that he brings to our offense.”
Cobbs had a standout juke himself. He stepped back to get past two defenders. The play garnered “whoas” from both sidelines and the crowd.
“I feel it was kind of just, reaction,” Cobbs said. “We know that the guys from the interior, like the linebackers, are going to be coming full speed out trying to take our heads off. I know if I have a guy with a lot of momentum coming out, I can kind of step back and give him a little something, being that we have so much space. That’s one thing that I really like about our offense.”
Cobbs is one of the transfers Anderson and his staff brought in from the portal after last season. He said the scrimmage was a good chance for them to show why he brought them to Utah State.
“This was really the first good opportunity for them to be out there without coaches telling them what to do. I think you saw a lot of those guys step up,” Anderson said. “We absolutely need them to do so and this was a good step in the right direction for… that transfer class.”
Cobbs and fellow transfers, Vaughn and Xavier Williams, seem to have meshed together as a strong receiving core with returning players. Cobbs said they have built chemistry with each other and the quarterbacks not only by talking about plays and throwing after practices but also by spending time with each other.
“A lot of people think to build chemistry you have to do so much, but I really feel like just hanging outside, eating breakfast together, stuff like that, talking,” Cobbs said.
Transfers on the defense are also finding their place on the squad. Grzesiak and outside linebacker Anthony Switzer recorded would-be sacks on Saturday.
“A lot of guys are stepping in, transfers, young guys stepping up,” Vaughns said. “ It feels good to see that we still have that same carry-over from last year, that we picked up from where we left off.”
Vaughns, as a former transfer, knows what it is like to integrate into Utah State. He is a player Anderson is looking at to fill leadership positions on the defense.
“We need him to truly show a veteran leadership type role, be consistent every snap,” Anderson said. “ I think that’s the challenge for him and he loves to play.”
For Vaughns, he is doing that by being himself.
“I’m just trying to pick up everybody else, being a leader,” Vaughns said. “I really don’t look at it as a role or as a job, it’s just me being me, picking up everybody else, and making sure that I can help better everybody else as a football player and as a person.”
The Aggies have two more weeks of spring practices open to the public this month, concluding with the Blue vs. White Spring Game. That intrasquad skirmish will be on Merlin Olsen Field on April 23, at 1 p.m.