Utah State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Utah State Aggies
Posted Aug 9, 2006

Utah State Aggies Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Hey, who’s the new guy? – Here are a few facts about the Utah State running game from last season.  Facts that might actually make January arrival running back Marcus Cross from Garden City Community College the most valuable signee that the Aggies have had in a while.  First fact – the running backs led the team in rushing in a game twice.  That’s right.  In only two games did the position of running back lead the team in rushing.  Second fact – the Aggies were 92nd in the nation running and in the bottom half of the WAC.  Third fact – the Aggies registered 1,287 yards total, a total that was surpassed by 18 individuals last season in college football.  Fourth fact – the leading rusher on the team Ryan Bohm had 340 yards and yes, he was a running back, but the next two in line were QBs Leon Jackson and Jerod Walker.  All in all, running backs accounted for less than half of the rushing total on the season.  Ouch.  With that horrid 2005 season behind them, enter Cross, a 5’11”, 210 pound package from GCCC, via Houston.  The juco transfer should be able to infuse this offense with some speed and explosion…and hopefully more than 340 yards rushing.  He’ll need some help from his offensive line, as all good running backs do, but if the new guy (not head coach Brent Guy) lives up to the hype, the Aggie offense will take a big step forward.

2nd and Seven – Dude, where are all the Chicks? – With the arrival of former Arizona State defensive coordinator Brent Guy as Aggie head coach, it wasn’t surprising to see the emergence of a defensive star, former Aggie defensive end John Chick.  All the senior defensive end did last year was pile up 19 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks per game.  Alas, the Chick has blossomed into a, well, let’s just say he’s on to the NFL, and the Aggies need someone to fill the role of ‘edge disruptor’ this season.  The secondary gave up over 260 yards per game last year, and there’s nothing they’d like better than to see someone get upfield pressure on the quarterback.  Youngsters like Ben Calderwood, Bevan Howard, Michael Martini and Darby Golden will have to turn up the heat on the perimeter to get the attention of WAC quarterbacks this fall.

3rd and Three – Uh, ya’ think he should get a full ride? – It happens nearly every year at every institution in every level of college football.  Some walk-on, given only one opportunity, turns into one of the best players on his team and in the conference.  Say hello to Jake Hutton, Aggie linebacker who led the team in tackles with 87.  Suffice it to say, the young man was given a scholly for his effort last year, a year in which he was named to the Sporting News freshman All-American team.  At 6’ and 225, Hutton isn’t a prototypical linebacker, sizewise, but the man knows how to get the football and he’s hungry to make plays.  He’s solid in the middle, making one tackle after another, and he should be the foundation for this defense playing behind two experienced defensive tackles Brian Soi (another freshman All-American) and E.J Reid.

4th and One – Life in the WAC, Chapter two – A conference change.  A new coaching staff.  From a football standpoint, there may not be two more difficult things to encounter during a football season than those two.  But, those two ‘changes’ should be in the Aggie rearview mirror, but how far in the distance are they?  In other words, can this team make enough progress to get into the mix for a potential bowl game?  They’re probably not quite at that point, but a second year under Guy and a relatively consistent coaching staff should pay dividends near the end of the second season.  A WAC championship is probably out of the question, but with Leon Jackson, Tony Pennyman, Kevin Robinson, Marcus Cross and Jake Hutton as playmakers, the future does look a little better.  And, that’s progress, as little as it might be.

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