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Aggie backfield will be loaded vs. Nevada

LOGAN — In the three games starting running back Curtis Marsh was on the shelf with a bum ankle, Derrvin Speight took advantage of his opportunity.

The redshirt freshman rushed for 99, 69 and 71 yards against San Jose State, Utah and Hawaii, respectively, on an average of nearly 22 carries per game.

Those three games, along with an open date last week, allowed Marsh time to fully heal, and he'll be ready for today's Western Athletic Conference game with Nevada, at 1 p.m. at Romney Stadium. His return will give the Aggies an additional threat in the backfield.

"Now we get Curtis Marsh back so we can put both he and Derrvin Speight in the backfield at the same time with Leon (Jackson), which I think creates a triple threat for any three of those to run and create play-pass off of that or screens off that with those guys or our wide receivers," Utah State coach Brent Guy said.

Between the three, they are averaging 107 yards per game.

Against Hawaii, Jackson had 17 carries (one shy of his season high) for 55 yards, while Speight finished with 20 carries for 71 yards. The addition of Marsh, who is averaging 37 yards per game, will only help the offense, which is coming off its best game in a 52-37 loss at Hawaii two weeks ago.

The Aggies tallied a season-high in plays (73), points (37), time of possession (35:01) and yards (370), while Jackson had his best passing game by going 21 of 29 for 247 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Only time will tell, however, if the 14-day layoff will hurt the team.

"We played better (at Hawaii) but still think we needed a break just because we had played some tough games that we had a chance to win but didn't win," Guy said.

"I still think it (the week) off was probably better for us, even though offensively we scored more points than we have and made some encouraging steps, that we still needed some time off."

FIELD GOAL PETE: Utah State freshman kicker Peter Caldwell is 10 of 12 in field-goal attempts this year with a career long of 47 yards hit two weeks ago at Hawaii.

Six of his 10 field goals have been from 31 yards or less.

He is also 7 of 7 in extra points.

SPEAKING OF KICKERS: Utah State sophomore kicker Chris Ulinski, who went to high school in California less than two hours from Reno, attended the University of Nevada last year, but didn't play football.

"This is probably the game that I'm looking forward to most mainly because I'm bitter toward their football program," he said. "I went to Nevada with the hopes of walking on. I went and talked to the coaches, and they told me they'd seen my film and liked what they saw and to come back in the spring, but it just didn't work out."

Ulinski started the year kicking extra points and kickoffs, but after a series of misses early in the season, the job of kicking extra points went to Caldwell.

"I can't blame the coaches for what they did because Pete (Caldwell) has almost been perfect this season and he had a lot of anticipation when he came here," Ulinski said. "I'm glad I'm doing kickoff and hopefully I can battle for the place-kicking spot in the spring."

NO UMBRELLAS: Umbrellas are prohibited in Romney Stadium per the long-standing Athletic Department policy, and it will be enforced for this Saturday's football game with Nevada.

Dispensers will be available at the gate to leave your umbrella to retrieve following the game.

MILITARY APPRECIATION: Utah State plays host to Nevada and the Wounded Warrior Project in a game set to honor those men and women of the United States armed forces who have been severely injured during conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the world.

Wounded warrior Erick Lund, a native of Providence, will be honored at Saturday's game. Lund, a member of the United States Army National Guard, received injuries in combat that resulted in a partial amputation of his left foot.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com