LOGAN – The Utah State football team is in the middle of its bye week.
Depending on how you look at it, the timing could be good or bad. The team has a lot to fix, but fans and players also have two weeks to dwell on one of the worst stretches of football in recent memory.
Going back a year ago this week, USU is 4-9 since it forced a half-dozen turnovers to beat Boise State at home.
At the midway point in the season, the Aggies have two wins. The first came in its opening week against FCS Weber State, the second came a few weeks later at home against Arkansas State, who is currently 1-4 on the season.
Most fans have forgotten about a conference championship. Some doubt whether a bowl game is even possible.
After losing by a touchdown at home to Air Force, struggling to move the ball in a 21-10 loss at Boise State then getting beat by a struggling Colorado State team after holding a two-touchdown lead in the second half, the team is 0-3 in conference.
The record has left many Aggies concerned and disappointed. Head coach Matt Wells is one of them, but he said it isn’t “major issues” that is at the bottom of it all.
“There are three conference losses that are tough, hard-fought and I think the bottom line is we’ve played well at times on offense, we’ve played better on defense more of the time, but when the game is in the balance or up for the taking, whether that’s early third quarter or late third quarter, we have not been able to string a couple plays on offense and defense together to find ways to win it,” he said.
With the exception of the lopsided loss at Southern Cal, the Aggies have at least kept games close. Two of the three conference losses were by a touchdown. The loss in Boise was by 11 points.
“We’re 0-3 and we certainly could be 3-0,” Wells said. “We haven’t made those plays in back-to-back-to-back weeks to either put us in a game, keep us in a game or to close the door on a team in a game. This league is a dogfight every week, and so the scores don’t surprise me each week, but I’m disappointed because they are losses.”
It can be hard to pinpoint where the problems begin and where to find solutions. Some fans are calling out coaching, others blame certain players. Wells said his team hasn’t been able to overcome mistakes and said his team needs to develop a ‘killer instinct.’ That killer instinct comes in part, he said, with preparation.
“This week we were up two touchdowns at halftime,” Wells said. “When they scored to make it 24-17, there are a couple of series on both sides of the ball right after that, that if you have that killer instinct, there is an pick caught, there is two or three plays and a touchdown, and you slam the door shut and you say, ‘Nope. There is my two-score lead again.’ Now, it’s a two-possession ball game or three-position ballgame to win it. I think the answer has to be we’ve got to continue to try to put them in positions in practice so they have success so you have confidence.”
The most-recent loss started a bombardment of tweets from fans expressing disappointment.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Utah State:<br />Not a bowl team<br />Not “better than their record”<br />Not well coached
— Parker Robertson (@ParkerRob78) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ParkerRob78/status/784994563618316289″>October 9, 2016</a></blockquote><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Why doesn’t wells just say, “I’m not a good coach and didn’t call the right plays to get the W tonight.” <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/accountability?src=hash”>#accountability</a>
— Cody Penman (@cpen06) <a href=”https://twitter.com/cpen06/status/785001605187772416″>October 9, 2016</a></blockquote><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>26 days until basketball season
— Tommy (@tomcat340) <a href=”https://twitter.com/tomcat340/status/784993934963466240″>October 9, 2016</a></blockquote><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>At least we have a bye next week so I can take a week off from being disappointed. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/USUFootball?src=hash”>#USUFootball</a>
— Kyle Heywood (@heywood_kyle) <a href=”https://twitter.com/heywood_kyle/status/784999018786992128″>October 9, 2016</a></blockquote>
Some players also sent out tweets.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The lost vs Colorado state eating me alive…
— Alex Byers (@livinlegend82) <a href=”https://twitter.com/livinlegend82/status/785509946355953665″>October 10, 2016</a></blockquote><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>What u gonna do when adversity hits?
— Kenton Myers Jr⚾️ (@KMyersballin) <a href=”https://twitter.com/KMyersballin/status/785177978657353728″>October 9, 2016</a></blockquote>