Aggies look to get back on track against Arkansas State

LOGAN – After a disastrous game against Southern Cal, the Utah State football team is ready to move on.

But the USC game isn’t the only bad memory the Aggies are trying to get rid of. Friday’s game against Arkansas State gives the team an opportunity to avenge a 21-14 overtime loss to the Red Wolves two years ago in Jonesboro.

The game will kick off at 6 p.m. in Maverik Stadium and feature two teams with recent success.

“They’re pretty similar to us just in the fact that they’re a good team and they’re probably one of the better group of five teams,” senior tight end Wyatt Houston said. “It’s going to be a good game. We have to come ready to play because they got the best of us last time, and hopefully we can get them this time.”

<h2><em><strong>Moving on from USC</strong></em></h2>

The Aggies would rather not experience another blowout loss like they experienced in Los Angeles, and hopefully they won’t have to. The 45-7 loss was the biggest point differential in a loss since 2010, but head coach Matt Wells doesn’t think USU will have another challenge like USC all year.

“They may be the most talented team we play all year and definitely the biggest and most physical,” he said.

It was a complete contrast from week one, when the Aggies beat Weber State by a very similar score, 45-6.

“The sample sizes that we got when we look at the Weber State game and the USC game are quite different for us in terms of not only the outcome of the game, but the opponent, as well,” Wells said. “There are things in both of them that we have to work on and we’re trying to recognize those and we’re determining those with the players and coaches.”

Cornerback Jalen Davis said he feels the USC game started well, but that the team didn’t play to its potential.

“We beat ourselves out there because there’s no doubt in my mind we could’ve gone out there and played with those guys and won,” he said. “But, like I said, we had a lot of mistakes out there. We just beat ourselves in the game.”

<h2><em><strong>The Red Wolves</strong></em></h2>

Arkansas State is 0-2 after a 31-10 loss to Toledo and a 51-14 loss at Auburn. Despite the record, Wells knows the Red Wolves are a dangerous football team. It is a team that has been to five-straight bowl games and has won four of the last five Sun Belt Conference championships.

“They have multiple rings in that complex and multiple trophies in that complex,” Wells said. “Our guys are well aware of that, especially our veterans that went down there two years ago and they know they’re a tough, competitive team with a lot of skill.”

The offense, which is led by senior quarterback Chad Voytik has struggled in its first two games averaging 104 yards rushing and 192 yards passing. Voytik, a Pitt transfer, has also rushed 31 times for 95 yards. The rushing leader, running back Warren Wand, has 28 attempts for 122 yards.

Two receivers have eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark. Chris Booker has nine catches for 105 yards while Blake Mack has caught the ball five time for 136 yards.

The defensive line seems to be one of Arkansas State’s strengths. Wells said the Red Wolves have some “big and heavy” defensive ends and tackles. According to Houston, they are also quick.

“Arkansas State, they’re going to be fast and athletic, just like they were in 2013,” he said. “That’s all I’ve seen so far from tape.”

Despite Arkansas State’s defensive speed, the team has given up 647 yards on the ground and another 615 through the air in two games.

Wells was disappointed with the special team’s performance last week against USC. He said he has known Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson for more than 20 years and believes Anderson will “try something on special teams” Friday night on Merlin Olsen Field.

“Special teams is a major liability and we’ve got to get that fixed in a hurry,” he said. “Our kickoff coverage and our kickoff unit, including our kicker, was poor. We have to be better at that. And then our punt team didn’t do a very good job in multiple areas.”

<h2><em><strong>Devante Mays and Daniel Gray</strong></em></h2>

It is still unclear whether or not Devante Mays and Daniel Gray will see the field on Saturday. Both were injured on separate plays against USC, and both are said to be questionable by Wells.

“Bottom line is that both X-rays are negative, they’re both fine and they’re both day-to-day,” Wells told Al Lewis during Wednesday’s Coaches Show on KVNU.

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