LOGAN – It’s homecoming week at USU and the football team is starting conference play. The 4-1 Air Force Falcons come to Logan for a nationally televised Saturday night matchup already having notched a win against preseason conference favorite Boise State. It is a game that could give the Aggies an early lead in the Mountain Division race.
“I think both teams this week are in a similar situation,” head coach Matt Wells said. “And we’ll see this Saturday who is better prepared to play.”
The “similar situation” Wells referred to is the big victory over a rival team each is coming off of. Utah State beat BYU in Provo for the first since 1978 last Friday. It was in a game where the Aggies were picked to be 20-point underdogs. Air Force is coming off a win against Navy and now has the upper-hand to get the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.
“It’s an emotional rivalry game that was a tremendous win for us that we had not done in a long time,” Wells said. “And you can say the same thing about Air Force. That’s a big-time rivalry.”
A challenge that Air Force brings to Romney Stadium is the triple option offense. Wells said that defending against the triple option requires a lot of responsibility and can put big strain on the defense.
“We know how good Air Force is,” linebacker Nick Vigil said. “They went in and beat Boise (State). We’re going to have to be on our best game. They’re a tough team.”
The Air Force option attack is led by quarterback Kale Pearson. The senior was hurt before he had a chance to play against the Aggies last season. Saturday will be the first time the Utah State defense will line up against him.
“(Pearson) reminds me a lot of Darell (Garretson) and of D.J. Nelson, just with the moxie that those kids got,” Wells said. “He’s faster than both of them though.”
A big part of defending against the Air Force offense and the option attack will be trying to stop sophomore running back Jacobi Owens who averages 5.5 yards each carry and leads the conference with 123.4 yards per game.
“They know who they are,” Wells said. “They know what they do, and they do it really good.”
Aggie fans were surprised last Friday when Nick Vigil not only played his normal linebacker position, but played on the offensive side of the ball as a running back as well. He gained 59 yards on 16 carries. He played in a total of 108 snaps, but Wells said he wouldn’t divulge too much about how the team will use him against Air Force.
“We’ll be smart with him,” he said. “But I’m sure you may see him back there once or twice Saturday night.”
This will be the third time the Aggies and the Falcons will meet on the football field in series history. The first game was won by Air Force in 1969. Last year USU beat Air Force 52-20. Saturday’s matchup will be the first time the Air Force football team has played in Logan.