LOGAN – The Utah State football team is hoping to get back on track when it travels to Fort Collins for a Saturday night matchup against Colorado State. Unlike the previous two opponents, which handed the Aggies two-straight losses, the Rams aren’t undefeated and have struggled to a 2-3 record so far this season.
But that doesn’t mean Matt Wells is going to ease up on any preparations. The fourth-year head coach has gone head-to-head against these guys a few times and knows what Colorado State is capable of.
“This is a tough program,” he said. “They have tough players and it’s a tough place to play in Fort Collins. It will be a tough place to play and it always is every year we go there. Our guys will have to be up for the challenge.”
<h2><em><strong>Fighting for a conference win</strong></em></h2>
Don’t be surprised if there is a sense of urgency on the field Saturday night. Utah State is looking for its first conference win, and so is Colorado State.
The Aggie football team dropped its conference opener to Air Force before traveling north to Boise last weekend in an 11-point loss to the Broncos. This is the first time since 2011 the Aggies have started the conference season 0-2. The Rams just suffered a 38-17 loss to Wyoming in its rivalry Border War game, the first loss in the series since 2012.
“You can only control what you can control,” Aggie quarterback Kent Myers said of the conference race. “We already have two losses and now it’s out of our hands, and last year it was out of our hands, as well. We just have to win out from now on. It’s a crazy conference.”
Colorado State’s 2-3 overall record matches USU’s. The Rams’ two wins came against the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Northern Colorado Bears. The team opened the season with a blowout loss to Colorado and lost to Minnesota by a touchdown a few weeks later.
<h2><em><strong>Scouting the Rams</strong></em></h2>
Both Utah State and Colorado State are struggling to score. Colorado State’s offense averages 23.6 points per game, while the Aggie offense is scoring slightly less at 23.2. Both seem to have issues on the ground, but are doing better through the air. USU ranks fourth in the conference in pass offense (219.8 yards per game) and CSU ranks fifth (215.2 yards per game).
The Ram team is led by freshman quarterback Collin Hill who has completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 893 yards. He got the starting job after head coach Mike Bobo started three different quarterbacks in three games.
“The player that they have settled on for right now is big and strong-armed,” Wells said. “He throws the ball down the field and he’s got some athleticism to him.”
USU sophomore safety Jontrell Rocquemore said it doesn’t matter too much that Hill is a freshman.
“We try to get in his head a little bit more, try to disguise a little bit more,” he said. “But other than that, you just try to be on your game. You can get hit anytime as you saw last game. You just play with great intensity, great focus and do what you did all practice.”
The Colorado State defense is allowing an average of 29.6 points per game, with slightly more rushing yards than passing.
There are a few noticeable standouts. Defensive back Braylin Scott is having a big season with three interceptions so far. The team’s leading tackler is Kevin Davis. His 10.5 tackles per game rank 20th nationally. He is the only one at the FBS level with 50 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
“He runs around and makes good plays,” Wells said. “He’s smart, he’s long and he’s athletic.”
<h2><em><strong>Recent series history</strong></em></h2>
The last time this game was played in Fort Collins, Colorado State came out on top, 16-13. Like many games that year, it included an injury to an Aggie quarterback. The run game only managed 100 yards, 59 of those were on one long touchdown run. The Rams won with late field goals and deep strikes to standout wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns.
“We gave up a shot over the free safety’s head on play action,” Wells recalled. “They got into field-goal range and beat us, but we thought it was going to overtime.”
Last year’s game was record setting. Myers ran for 191 yards and a touchdown, which broke a record shared by Chuckie Keeton and Tony Adams for most rushing yards by an Aggie quarterback. He also threw for 137 yards and a touchdown during the 33-18 win.
Myers said the game plan last year was to take what the defense gave him, and he is planning on doing the same this year.
“If they want to do something else, then we’re going to change it up and do something else that will make us win the game,” he said.
This game will kick off at 8 p.m.