LOGAN – Because of the bye week, there has been a half-month break since Utah State took the football field, but the team will finally take it again Saturday afternoon in a homecoming game against Colorado State. Aggie fans hope the pause in play has given their team enough time to improve in the areas where struggles are obvious.
The Aggies and Rams have met on the gridiron for four-straight years. Each has won two games during that time, but for the past two seasons, the schools have shared a conference. Year one in the Mountain West took place in Logan, it resulted in a 13-0 shutout in favor of the Aggies. In year two, the Rams took revenge on a last-second, game-winning 46-yard field goal. Now in year three, the game looks as important as ever. Both teams have two losses early in the season and want to open conference play with a win.
“We’ve got players that have played in both those games, and so do they,” Wells said. “You expect another hard-fought battle. We’ll see how it goes.”
One of those players on the Colorado State side is wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who has caught 20 passes for 312 yards so far this season. During last year’s game against USU, Higgins caught some deep balls that perhaps saved the game for the Rams. The Aggie defense was burned through the air in their game two weeks ago against Washington and will need to step up against Higgins and the Ram passing attack in order to give themselves a better chance at winning.
“(Higgins) has our respect,” Wells said. “He has our players’ respect and he has our attention. We know all about him. He’s a good player.”
A glaring problem for USU is the lack of offensive production. It ranks 126 out of 127 teams nationwide. Both the passing and rushing attack have struggled, but head coach Matt Wells said figuring out how to run the ball better is “the million-dollar question.”
“It’s a little bit of schematics, what we’re doing and coaches calling things that our kids are better at doing, and players communicating and playing a little better,” Wells said. “There’s a mix of both and I’ve addressed that. We’ll look out Saturday night and see how we move the football.”
Kent Myers will likely be key to the offensive turnaround, if there is one. The sophomore quarterback was thrown into the starting role as a true freshman last season after injuries took out three other quarterbacks. Now the injury bug has struck again, putting quarterback Chuckie Keeton on the sideline. Myers led the team to a 5-1 record, including a win in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Wells said Myers’ teammates have confidence in him.
“He brings athleticism and he throws the ball well whether it’s down the field, in the pocket or on the move,” he said. “He’s improved from last year, but game time will tell.”
In addition to replacing several key players from last year’s team, including the kicker that won the game, Colorado State brings new head coach Mike Bobo into Logan. Despite all the similarities from years past, and all the new changes the matchup will see this year, Wells sees the key to the game lying in the trenches.
“In my opinion, a lot of the game is going to be decided in the front seven on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Are they going to be able to run the ball on our defense? Can we run the ball on them? They have really good receivers, we have good receivers. Those are matchups out there where you get into one-on-one battles. But I truly think the matchup of the interior guys on both sides of the ball will be a key matchup.”