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2009 Utah State Preview
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Interested in blogging
about Utah State football?
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?"
Head coach: Gary Andersen
Off. 21, Def. 24, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 14
Best Aggie Players
1. QB Diondre Borel, Jr.
2. LB Paul
3. SS James Brindley, Sr.
4. RB Robert
5. P/PK Peter Caldwell, Soph.
6. C Brennan
7. WR Omar Sawyer, Sr.
8. RB Michael
9. LB Kyle Gallagher, Soph.
10. DE Antonio
9/3 at Utah
2009 Record: 0-0
9/12 OPEN DATE
9/19 at Texas A&M
9/26 Southern Utah
10/2 at BYU
10/10 at New Mexico State
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
12/5 OPEN DATE
8/30 at UNLV
2008 Record: 3-9
9/6 at Oregon L 66-24
9/13 Utah L 58-10
9/20 Idaho W 42-17
9/27 OPEN DATE
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
11/22 OPEN DATE
11/29 New Mexico St W 47-2
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
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
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.
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
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
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
... 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
- Fourth down conversions: Utah State 16-of-23 (70%) -
Opponents 12-of-22 (55%)