LOGAN – Utah State will host the San Jose State Spartans in a nationally televised game Friday night. For the seniors, it may be the last time they put on a helmet and pads in Romney Stadium. They are the winningest class in USU history and head coach Matt Wells said this year’s team arguably has the best veteran leadership the Aggies have ever seen.
“Bottom line, it’s all about winning,” Wells said. “We’re in the hardest league we’ve ever been in, and we’re still winning. It’s the culture that’s created and reinforced by those guys. I would include last year’s senior class in that, too.
“We’ll replace their talent eventually, maybe not immediately, but maybe eventually, but it’s going to be hard to replace their character and all the intangibles that they bring to that locker room.”
A pregame ceremony is planned to honor the 19 seniors that won’t be returning. Offensive lineman Kevin Whimpey said he doesn’t want to dwell on senior day too much. He said he wants to focus on the game and worry about the rest later.
“I just show up, hopefully we win the game and I leave,” Whimpey said. “It’ll be routine until I’m done. Then I may shed a tear or two.”
Vigil agreed with Whimpey. He said they need to avoid going into the game “weak-minded” and playing soft.
“We’ll go out and handle business,” he said. “There’s time to cry later on. I don’t need to be crying before the game.”
It is possible the seniors play one more game in their home stadium. If the Aggies win their last two games and Colorado State loses one more, the Aggies could host the conference championship. A win against the Spartans would also make the Aggies undefeated at Romney Stadium this year.
The Spartans don’t’ have the most impressive record. In fact, they have only won three games this season, but head coach Matt Wells isn’t underestimating them.
“This is a team that when you flip on the tape, and nobody tells you what the record is, you’re like, ‘Holy smokes, these guys are really good,’” Wells said.
San Jose State’s defense has allowed fewer yards per game than any other Mountain West team. They have the top-rated pass defense in the nation and have only allowed five touchdowns through the air all season. On average the defense allows 127.2 passing yards per game.
“They play hard,” Whimpey said. “They’re well-coached. This is another week where we’ll need to dial in.”
The Aggie defense will go up against junior quarterback Joe Gray, who Wells called a dual-threat. Gray has thrown for 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions so far this season. He has run for three touchdowns.
“He throws it well on the run and he puts the ball in some tight spots, which tells you he has confidence,” he said.
The Spartan’s like to get the ball to wide receiver Tyler Ervin, who averages 147.8 all-purpose yards per game. Wells compared Ervin to USU’s JoJo Natson and said that Ervin is more of a running back than wide receiver.
“He’s catching the ball out of the backfield,” he said. “They can motion him out, motion him back in, so you got to know where that kid is at all times.”
The Aggies are 15-20-1 all-time against the Spartans, but have won the last five. They haven’t lost in the month of November since 2010 and will hope to keep both streaks alive Friday night.