It’s March, which obviously means it’s time to talk football.
Well, at least for those of us who tabbed Villanova as our 2017 bracket champion or for some reason think of baseball as primarily a September-October sport it’s time to talk football. Admittedly, there’s only so much you can tell from a spring scrimmage — these guys are just barely feeling the warmth of the sun for the first time in eight months. But yeah, here we go with totally subjective takeaways based on Friday afternoon’s pleasant outing at Maverik Stadium.
1 – Colston-Green looks sharp
The Aggies’ best position group may actually be their solid collection of wideouts, which is a little strange. Utah State is a run-option, short-passing offensive blend playing in a conference dominated by the run. There’s a reason four Mountain West teams finish in the nation’s Top 25 in pass defense every year — and it’s not stellar secondary play. In this cold weather conference, teams run the ball. For Utah State, a squad in need of offensive tune-ups across the board, maybe the answer is streaking down the sidelines.
Ron’quavion Tarver established himself last year as a consistent big-play target, alongside freshman stud Rayshad Lewis consistently finding extra yards from the slot where there often were none. Add to that mix senior Jaren Colston-Green, who through two seasons in an Aggie uniform hasn’t been utilized to even a fraction of his potential. Starting quarterback Kent Myers found Colston-Green on a pretty 13-yard touchdown after three straight defensive stops, showing some clever anticipation and chemistry between the two. If Colston-Green shows up this fall hungry for a meaningful senior year, the Aggies will add a veteran playmaker likely to draw opponents’ second or third-best defender.
2 – DJ Nelson is still fun
Everyone’s favorite backyard quarterback is still an Aggie, and actually dealt some nice throws Friday afternoon. The junior finished 12-of-21 for more than 200 yards, numbers that mean almost nothing in a springtime scrimmage, but perhaps still noteworthy because fans in attendance saw lots of him, Myers and freshman Jordan Love — and not much of backup Damian Hobbs.
Nelson shouldn’t see much of the field this fall, at least quarterback, but his off-the-back-foot 30-yard spirals are one of the best parts of spring ball.
3 – Tonny Lindsey Jr. is up and running
Lindsey is carving out a nice role behind an offensive line still fully in flux. Tallying 32 yards and a pair of scores on eight carries made for a nice afternoon, but look for the finesse runner to seize more control of the starting spot he enjoyed ten times last season. Failure to establish the run doomed the Aggies repeatedly throughout their 2016-17 campaign, and Lindsey might be USU’s best shot at a cure. Lindsey boasted a 5.2 yards per carry average last year, but was also held to just 63.6 yard per game — with just two games above the 100-yard mark. True, injuries to Devontae Mays led to a patchwork backfield last season, and the team played from behind too much to really feed Lindsey as much as he probably deserved. For Utah State to rebound from a rocky 3-9 season, someone will need to be “The Guy,” and this early showing says Lindsey might lay claim to such a role.