Preview 2017: Utah State Aggies
Previewing and looking ahead at the Utah State season – and what you need to know.
– 2017 Utah State Preview: Back To The Good Old Days?
– 2017 Utah State Schedule & Analysis
– Utah State Previews: 2016 | 2015
What You Need To Know About The Utah State Offense
The offense that needed a better passing game got the guy who can help make that happen. New offensive coordinator David Yost is known for two things – his long hair, and his ability to make quarterbacks shine at Missouri. Can he do more for an offense that finished 93rd in the nation in passing and 106h in passing efficiency?
Fortunately, Kent Myers is a terrific veteran quarterback who can make it all go. With the top two targets – Ron’Quavion Tarver and Rayshad Lewis – returning, and nine of the top 11 targets returning, the O can’t help but be more effective.
The running game needs to be stronger, too, but that could take a little while behind a line that has to replace three starters. At least the top rusher – Tonny Lindsey – is back, to go along with the running ability of Myers.
Biggest Key To The Utah State Offense
Third downs, third downs, third downs. Converting third down plays hasn’t always been a determining factor – the 2014 team was good despite the issues moving the chains – but when everything was humming on both sides of the ball, the offense went on march after march, converting well over 40% of their chances. Without the explosive plays to help the cause, when the Aggies didn’t work well on third downs last year, the offense fell to a dead stop.
What You Need To Know About The Utah State Defense
Eight starters are back to a defense that wasn’t quite up to the level most Aggie fans became used to over the last several seasons, but was still okay. Overall, USU finished 44th in the nation, was outstanding at times against the pass, and held up well enough against the run.
The top three, and four of the top five tacklers, might be done, but there’s a good group of hitters back in the linebacking corps to go along with a potentially fantastic secondary.
Jalen Davis is a terrific veteran corner in a 3-4 scheme that returns most of the top defense backs. The line is the concern, though, needing more pass rushers and tightening against the stronger ground attacks.
Biggest Key To The Utah State Defense
Get behind the line more. The Aggies don’t even need to crank out sacks in bunches like they used to; they just need to do more in the backfield. When the run defense was crushing and killing everything in its path, it was dominant behind the line with 114 tackles for loss in 2014 and 109 in 2013. Even when the sacks dropped in 2015, there were still 86 tackles for loss. Last year? 67 – the fewest since 2010.
Utah State Will Be Far Better If …
The Aggies win the field position and time of possession battles. The defense used to be able to roll off the field after making stop after stop, and it showed as part of an overall puzzle. In 2013, Utah State won nine games, helped by the great D, a dominant punting game, and controlling the clock for over 31 minutes per game. In 2014, the Aggies won ten games, and went bowling in 2015, doing a solid job in both categories. Last year? They were 115th in the nation in time of possession and had the fourth-worst punting game in college football.
Best Utah State Offensive Player
QB Kent Myers, Sr. – While he couldn’t get the passing game cranked up quite as much as he needed to, he should be in for a bigger year with veteran receivers coming back and considering all of his experience. This is Myers’ fourth-year firing away, but unlike early in his career, the offense is unquestionably all his.
He completed 58% of his passes for 2,389 yards and ten scores with eight picks, and finished second on the team with 449 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Now he has to use his experience and leadership to make the O more dynamic.
2. WR Ron’Quavion Tarver, Jr.
3. RB Tonny Lindsey, Sr.
4. WR Rayshad Lewis, Soph.
5. OG Brandon Taukeiaho, Sr.
Best Utah State Defensive Player
CB Jalen Davis, Sr. – One of the Mountain West’s best all-around defensive backs, the 5-10, 185-pound corner didn’t make as many tackles last year as he did in his first two all-star seasons – coming up with 35, after making 61 as a freshman and 51 as a sophomore – and he only picked off one pass. But he was decent at getting into the backfield, and he did what he could do despite not being thrown at quite as often.
2. S Dallin Leavitt, Sr.
3. DE Ian Togiai, Sr.
4. LB Alex Huerta, Sr.
5. LB Derek Larsen, Jr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DE Ian Togiai, Jr. – The 2014 Aggies cranked up 49 sacks, and the D came up with 76 in the previous two seasons. In 2015, there was a concern after a major drop-off, coming up with a mere 27 sacks. Last year, there were just 22. Togiai came up with 38 tackles and two sacks with three tackles for loss, but now the 6-2, 285-pounder has to be even more disruptive. The Aggie D needs him.
The Utah State Season Will Be A Success If …
The Aggies get back on track to a bowl game. After a down season with so many negatives and a few close calls, everything could be fine by hitting the six-win mark and getting to a bowl game. With Idaho State, at San Jose State, at UNLV and Hawaii all winnable, and with the team likely to be good enough to come up with a few good home wins along the way, six wins might not be asking a lot.
Key Game To The Utah State Season
Sept. 23 at San Jose State The Aggies could use a hot start after all of the problems of last year, but that might be tough with road trips to Wisconsin and Wake Forest, and a home date against BYU, before October. Lose the Mountain West opener on the road to San Jose State, and a 1-4 beginning could be a disaster.
2016 Utah State Fun Stats
– Fumbles: Utah State 17 (lost 6) – Opponents 9 (lost 3)
– Time of Possession: Opponents 33:15 – Utah State 26:45
– Field Goals: Opponents 17-of-20 – Utah State 12-of-17