Defensive backs finishing plays.
That was a major emphasis for Utah State’s football team following the first day of spring practice on Tuesday.
Apparently, the Aggie DBs got the memo.
Cameron Sanders and Sus Valero both nabbed interceptions during practice Wednesday morning at the Laub Indoor Training Center.
“They were in the right spot at the right time and they finished,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “That was the emphasis coming off of (Tuesday) is DBs finishing plays, so that was good to see.”
But on the flip side, seeing his quarterbacks throw interceptions wasn’t so good.
“There were some decisions I know we’d like to have back at quarterback,” Wells said. “We’ve got to make sure our eyes are in the right spot, our read progressions are correct, and we understand when it’s OK to throw a ball in the stands and when it’s OK to throw one in the dirt, throw it away, and play another play. Offensively, and the quarterbacks especially, have got to learn to play another down — learn to live another play.”
Defense certainly highlighted Wednesday’s practice.
“I felt like the whole defense swarmed to the ball,” Sanders said. “We were making good tackles and getting in position to make the tackle, stripping the ball. When plays need to be made, we make them.”
What did he see on his interception?
“It was a cover three and I was just reading the quarterback,” Sanders said. “I saw him release the ball and it was overthrown, so I just found the ball.”
The Aggies under new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando have certainly been swarming to the ball, trying to strip it from the offensive player, during the first two days of practice.
“Last year, that was one of our weaknesses,” Sanders said. “Not weaknesses, but we just need to be better on takeaways and have more takeaways on defense. We make plays, but we just need to make more turnovers. We’re taking it way more seriously and really trying to get the ball back.”
Besides the two interceptions, Dredan Snowden also had a nice pass breakup.
Wells was also pleased with the performance of the defensive line on Wednesday.
“I thought the D-line ran to the football well,” Wells said. “I like the way they play, I like their intensity. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Wells was not pleased with the wide receiver corps, though, and called them out.
“The wideouts need to find a way to step up and make plays,” he said. “When the ball is in the air, they’ve got to go find it and make a play. Contested or uncontested, it doesn’t matter, we’ve got to make plays and that’s the bottom line.
“... From the minute practice starts, they’ve got to make plays.”
The Aggies will wrap up their first week of spring practice this afternoon when they will don pads for the first time.
“When pads come on, the intensity will pick up,” Wells said. “It’s not like it wasn’t intense today, but that’s just very, very natural. Just a lot of juice, take care of each other and have a good, crisp, clean practice.”
Both Sanders and tight end Keegan Andersen said they were looking forward to putting on the pads.
“It’s kind of hard because you can’t hit (without them on),” Andersen said. “It’s hard for the offensive guys because the defensive guys go hard. You can’t really do anything because you can’t hit them.”
That all changes Thursday.