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Aggies are itching to play game again

Coach says lots of practice has helped their passing attack

LOGAN — Utah State offensive tackle Donald Penn is a firm believer in the motto "practice makes perfect."

Recently, the Aggies have the practice part down pat, but the perfect part has yet to be seen. The Aggies have played just one game in 45 days — a 31-7 loss to Utah on Sept. 10 — while other teams around the country have already played as many as three.

"Practice has been rough, and I'm not going to sugarcoat it at all," Penn said. "A couple of guys are starting to get antsy going against each other and hitting the same people."

When the Aggies host UNLV on Saturday at 6 p.m. in their home-opener at Romney Stadium, the Rebels will be a welcome sight.

"It's going to be good to go out this weekend and hit some other people," said Penn, who will be making his 34th consecutive start at left tackle.

Said first-year head coach Brent Guy: "The extra practice time can't hurt. I wished we would have gotten into the rhythm having played a game and got right back out there and practiced and played another game."

The Aggies had their season- and home-opener with Nicholls State canceled. They played Utah a week later and then had a bye week.

"Like all coaches say, your most improvement comes between (Games) 1 and 2," Guy said. "I'm not sure if 1 and 2 for us is going to be this week and then Idaho as opposed to playing Utah and skipping a week and playing again. We'll see how we play."

The Aggies open up Western Athletic Conference play Oct. 1 at Idaho.

According to Guy, the extra practice has been good for his team.

"I think we're throwing the ball much better and I think we'll throw the ball better than we did against Utah," he said.

Penn said the young offensive line, which has only Penn and Pace Jorgensen as returning starters, has had much-needed time to gel.

"I think practicing helps us get better as a unit," he said. "We're still trying to get together and get everything going."

The Aggies, atypically, rushed for 163 yards, the most rushing yards in two years, while the passing game tallied just 95.

The improved running game is a plus and the improvement in the passing game during practice will only benefit the Aggies, who look to improve their record to 1-1.

"The offensive line, we love run block," Penn said. "That's one of our things. It felt real good to get out there and run the ball more, knowing that is our first option to run, not to sit back and pass.

"Now we've got teams on their toes. They don't know what we're going to hit them with. They don't know if we're going to have the quarterback run it or the running back run it. It's opened up our offense."

Since their game nearly 14 days ago, freshman running back Keith Gilliam left school. Backup wide receiver Preston Robinson had season-ending surgery to repair a dislocated and broken finger, while wide receivers Tony Pennyman, Dionte Holloway and running back Chris Forbes are back after serving one-game suspensions for violating team rules.

Gilliam didn't get any carries in the first game, and Robinson had just one catch for 6 yards, but the loss of both cuts into the Aggies' depth.

Only two true running backs had carries — Ryan Bohm and Marcus Crawford — and only six receivers had catches against the Utes.

Practice has created more options.

"Our passing game is improving and we're going to be able to continue to run the football and get more people involved running it," Guy said.


Aggies on the air

UNLV (1-2) at Utah State (0-1)

Saturday, 6 p.m.

Romney Stadium

TV: KJZZ, ESPN GamePlan

Radio: 610AM (Logan), 98.3FM (SLC)


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com