2009 Utah State Preview
Utah State RB Robert Turbin
Utah State RB Robert Turbin
Posted Jun 12, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Utah State Aggies

Utah State Aggies

Preview 200

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 CFN Utah State Preview | 2009 Utah State Offense
- 2009 Utah State Defense | 2009 Utah State Depth Chart
- 2008 Utah St Preview | 2007 Utah St Preview
| 2006 CFN Utah St Preview 

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Head coach: Gary Andersen
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 24, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Aggie Players
1. QB Diondre Borel, Jr.
2. LB Paul Igboeli, Sr.
3. SS James Brindley, Sr.
4. RB Robert Turbin, Soph.
5. P/PK Peter Caldwell, Soph.
6. C Brennan McFadden, Jr.
7. WR Omar Sawyer, Sr.
8. RB Michael Smith, Jr.
9. LB Kyle Gallagher, Soph.
10. DE Antonio May, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/3 at Utah
9/19 at Texas A&M
9/26 Southern Utah
10/2 at BYU
10/10 at New Mexico State
10/17 Nevada
10/24 Louisiana Tech
10/31 at Fresno State
11/7 at Hawaii
11/14 San Jose State
11/20 Boise State
11/28 at Idaho

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 1-11
2008 Record: 3-9

8/30 at UNLV L 27-17
9/6 at Oregon L 66-24
9/13 Utah L 58-10
9/20 Idaho W 42-17
10/3 BYU L 34-14
10/11 at San Jose State L 30-7
10/18 at Nevada L 44-17
10/25 Fresno State L 30-28
11/1 Hawaii W 30-14
11/8 at Boise State L 49-14
11/15 at La Tech L 45-38
11/29 New Mexico St W 47-2
It's been 12 years, 1996, since Utah State last had a winning season and has had just two winning seasons since 1980. So in comes new head coach Gary Andersen, who by all accounts could've, and probably should've, set the bar a bit higher and tried for a bigger gig, and he asks, "Why not Utah State?"

It's not fair to say that Utah State has simply been a loser of a program, because the team did keep trying and it kept pushing forward under former head coach Brent Guy. It's not like he lost his team. The talent level just hasn't been on par with the rest of the WAC, and there has been little to no luck when it came time to win close games over the last decade.

The program appeared to be close under Guy, who was able to bring in some decent athletes that needed to be turned into football players. The hope has to be that Andersen follows though on what Guy started.

There's a ton of returning experience with 18 starters and 49 lettermen coming back, and there's depth and interchangeable parts to play around with. What Andersen has tried to do first, as all new coaches say they want to do, is change the attitude and toughen everyone up. The players who make the cut and end up starting are going to be there because they proved they can handle the rigors and rough treatment the coaching staff is going to put them through. That's a must when you're as small as the Aggies are.

The offense will revolve around QB Diondre Borel, who's a do-it-all playmaker who should be a perfect fit, with a little bit of time, in the spread offense. The defense, Andersen's specialty after doing a great job at Utah, is going to need a little while in the more aggressive, press-man coverage scheme, but it's a D loaded with quickness and athleticism. Getting to the ball shouldn't be a problem, but its' going to take a little bit before everyone feels comfortable in their roles.

Why not Utah State? Well, there's still a talent gap compared to the top teams, but that doesn't mean the team can't start winning a few more close games and be in the hunt for a .500 season. And it Andersen can bring about a winning season, then this will be the WAC's hot program going into 2010.

What to watch for on offense: More from the line. This was job one of the new coaching staff: get more from the front five. The pass protection was non-existent at times throughout last year, and the production for the ground game wasn't nearly what it should've been. This is a big, veteran line that should be the best the program has had in a long time, and it's only going to get better with no starters to be found anywhere on the depth chart. It's going to take a little while longer to be great, but this group might take a big step forward this year.

What to watch for on defense: The cornerbacks. They're not going to be totally on their own in the new defense, but they're going to have to be physical and they're going to have to be able to handle themselves more often one-on-one. That's a problem considering the Utah State corners are probably as big as your sister. Chris Randle is 5-10 and 176 pounds, while Kejon Murphy, the team's top cover-corner, is 5-9 and 155. They'll need to hope the more aggressive defensive front gets into the backfield on a regular basis.

The team will be far better if … the offense can keep up the pace. The defense is going to be better under the new regime, but it's not going to be a brick wall quite yet. The offense is going to have to show off more firepower and will have to keep up in the higher scoring games. In the three wins, coming against Idaho, Hawaii, and New Mexico State, Utah State scored a total of 119 points. It scored 169 points in the nine losses with 38 coming against Louisiana Tech and 28 coming against Fresno State. The offense has to find a way to put more points on the board against the mid-level WAC teams.
The Schedule:
It'll be a tough first year with a rough non-conference schedule to kick things off. Andersen gets his old mates at Utah in the opener, and road trips to Texas A&M and BYU won't help. There are four road games in the first five with a home game against Southern Utah the only oasis. Three of the projected best teams in the WAC,  Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Boise State have to come to Logan, but the winnable games (Idaho and New Mexico State) are on the road

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Diondre Borel. He was not only the key to the passing game, which wasn't awful compared to past seasons, but he also led the team in rushing. He's a smart, tough leader who should take to the new offense and become a major playmaker. He not only has to be good, but he has to stay healthy with an iffy backup situation.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Paul Igboeli. Now without running mate Paul Hutton, who had a tough rehab after suffering a foot injury, Igboeli is the star of the linebacking corps that has to count on speed and quickness to make up for a woeful lack of size. He's only 6-0 and 201 pounds, but he's tough and he packs a big pop on his hits.

Key player to a successful season: Junior OT Spencer Johnson. The line has to be better. Far better. Johnson is the most promising tackle in the lot, working again at left tackle where he started seven games and struggled. He has to be the leader for a line that allowed 32 sacks last season and he has to prove he can stay with the more creative pass rushers.

The season will be a success if ... the Aggies win five games. The new coaching staff isn't going to accept anything less than a winning season, but considering the Aggies haven't won more than three games in a season in six years, getting to four or five wins would be a nice step forward before the team comes back loaded with even more experience next year. 

Key game: Oct. 10 at New Mexico State. There's one guarantee ... the Aggies will win. The New Mexico State version will be circling this game as one of the must-wins it'll need to have a shot at a decent year, while there are just a handful of games that Utah State can look at and think it has great shot at winning.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks over the last two seasons: Opponents 62 - Utah State 30
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 28.1 yards per try - Utah State 19.1 yards
- Fourth down conversions: Utah State 16-of-23 (70%) - Opponents 12-of-22 (55%)