LOGAN (ABC 4 Sports) - Utah State's football team held its first official practice of the 2012 season Friday afternoon as 104 players participated in the two-hour work out on the USU practice fields. Among the group were 19 returning starters (8-offense; 6-defense; 5-special teams) and 45 returning lettermen (19-offense; 20-defense; 6-special teams), including 19 seniors.
After the players worked out in helmets, practice jerseys and shorts, fourth-year Aggie head coach Gary Andersen was pleased with the team's energy and effort on the first day.
"I thought it was a good start, a lot of energy, which you would expect," said Andersen. "We got to look at a lot of things and I'm excited to go inside and look at the film. I thought we competed, had a lot of energy and a lot of excitement, and again that is to be expected on the first day. As is the case with everyone in the country right now, we have a long ways to go, but we will evaluate today's practice, come out tomorrow and kind of do the same thing as we did today."
Junior safety Cameron Sanders provided the opening day highlights with a pair of interceptions, while a pair of freshmen also caught Andersen's attention in wide receiver Bruce Natson and running back Kelvin Lee. Andersen also commented on the team's off-season conditioning program and the benefits he saw from that during the first practice.
"The players appear to be in good shape, and it looks like they did a nice job in the summer of preparing their bodies. It looks like we are where we left off after spring ball from a conditioning standpoint, which is a huge positive, and some guys have gained some weight and gotten bigger and stronger," added Andersen.
Friday was the first of 29 practices for Utah State leading up to its season-opener at home against Southern Utah on Thursday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m.
As part of the NCAA's five-day "acclimatization period," the Aggies will again be in shorts and helmets Saturday and will add shoulder pads on Monday. USU's first practice in full pads will be on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and the first two-a-day is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 9. All practices next week will be held on the USU practice field leading up to its first scrimmage, which will be held on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 10 a.m.
For the first time since 1996, the Aggies will open a season with back-to-back home games, hosting a pair of in-state foes in Southern Utah on Thursday, Aug. 30 and Utah on Friday, Sept. 7. Both games are slated for 6 p.m. (MT) starts from Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. The Aggies' game against Utah will be on ESPN2.
All practices during fall camp, which concludes on Saturday, Aug. 25, are open to the public.Utah State Football Practice Dates, Times and Location.