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Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

Chuckie Keeton, Joe Hill looked solid during Aggie scrimmage

By Jeff Hunter, For the Deseret News

Published: Sun, Aug. 17 6:08 p.m. MDT

 USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton during Utah State University football team practice { dow}, Aug. 5, 2014, in Logan.

USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton during Utah State University football team practice { dow}, Aug. 5, 2014, in Logan.

(Tom Smart, Deseret News)

LOGAN — Even though he’s a leader on the defensive side of the football, senior safety Brian Suite mostly wanted to talk about a pair of offensive Aggies following Saturday night’s scrimmage at Romney Stadium.

“Personally, what I saw was Joe Hill running the ball, and that was great to see. I haven’t seen Joe Hill run that fast in a long time, so it’s good to see him back,” Suite said of Utah State’s senior running back, who is trying to rebound from a torn ACL, much like senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton.

“And I saw Chuckie jump cutting and doing what Chuckie does — what makes him Chuckie — and that makes me really happy.”

Hill ended up rushing for 59 yards on four carries, including a 45-yard burst on his first carry of the night, while Keeton ran for 29 yards on five carries and completed 14 of 30 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s the most I’ve played in front of in a few months, so honestly I’d be happy to have like three people,” Keeton replied when asked about the estimated crowd of 9,000 on hand for Aggie family fun day.

Wide receivers JoJo Natson (five receptions for 28 yards) and Hunter Sharp (one catch for 27 yards) both recorded touchdowns, while the No. 1 Aggie defense held the No. 2 offense in check all night long, the lone blemish being a 2-yard TD pass from Darell Garretson to tight end Jefferson Court on a drive that started well inside the red zone.

“I’m really proud of the No. 1 defense," USU head coach Matt Wells said. “They had a really strong performance all the way down.”

Utah State’s final scrimmage of fall camp will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Romney Stadium.

AS COLD AS ICE: During Wednesday night's broadcast, KSL-TV sportscaster Rod Zundel called out Utah's five collegiate football coaches to participate in the ice bucket challenge that has been sweeping the nation as part of a fundraising effort for the ALS Association.

Wells didn't find out about Zundel's request for the coaches to donate $100 or have a bucket of ice water dumped on their head until Thursday morning, but USU's head coach immediately swung into action. By the end of the first of Thursday's two practices, Wells and all of his assistants had water dumped over their heads, courtesy of some more-than-accommodating Aggie players.

In addition, Wells said he would still donate $100 to the ALSA, and challenged Zundel to do the same — a request Zundel said he would honor. Wells also called out five of his counterparts from the Mountain West Conference to do the same thing.

"It was fun and very refreshing, once it was all over," Wells said. "But it's for a really good cause that's near to my heart. Luke (Wells' brother and USU's co-offensive coordinator) and I lost a family friend growing up, someone that was really close to our family.

"It's a sick disease, man," Wells added, his voice cracking with emotion.

CATCH IT IF YOU CAN: The Aggies wrapped up Friday's practice by having a few people who don't normally handle the football attempt to field punts out of a pass-punt machine.

While offensive linemen Kevin Whimpey and Travis Seefeldt were unable to secure the football, defensive linemen Travis Seefeldt looked pretty comfortable catching his attempt. Several USU assistants also took a shot, with defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and special teams coach Dave Ungerer among those who managed to field the ball and also fake a return.

However, the biggest cheers of the brief contest were reserved for the final candidate, head trainer Mike Williams. Best-known as the man who helped save the life of former Aggie basketball player Danny Berger, Williams caught his attempt in heavy traffic as the entire USU team swarmed around him with delight.

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