Aggies looking to bounce back in home opener

Utah State coach Matt Wells talks to his team during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

LOGAN – Utah State’s 59-10 loss at No. 9 Wisconsin Friday night wasn’t just one-sided, it was the largest defeat the team has experienced since 2007, when the Brent Guy-coached Aggies were shut out 52-0 at home to Boise State.

An especially difficult part of Friday night’s loss was that USU led 10-0 late in the first half. Head coach Matt Wells said it was a hard way to learn, that corrections need to be made and that time is short. The Aggies will play its home opener against Idaho State Thursday night. For Wells, the quick turnaround is both good and bad. It’s bad because he wants as much time as possible to fix mistakes, but good because the team is anxious to get its first win.

Defensive end Ian Togiai said the team is “hungry for a win” and “ready to go.” Offensive lineman Roman Andrus had similar thoughts.

“We’re not okay with a loss by any means, but we still have a very high energy,” he said. “We are a special team this year and, if anything, it helped us come together more and we’re more excited to get back out there.”

<h3>The Bengals</h3>

Idaho State only picked up two wins last season, but could be on the right track after starting with a 37-6 home win over Western Oregon last Thursday. The Bengals showed a strong, balanced offensive attack in the victory, throwing for 289 yards and rushing for 142.

It was the opposite of what USU experienced Friday, when the Aggies led early but failed to score in the second half. Idaho State initially trailed 6-0 before picking up its first points on a field goal with five seconds left in the half. Those three points were the first of 37 unanswered.

The Aggies are favorites against FCS Idaho State Thursday night, but Togiai said USU isn’t looking past them.

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“We’re not looking down on them,” he said. “I know they play hard, and they almost beat Oregon State last year. We are not looking at them any different than we looked at Wisconsin. We’re getting ready for a big game and we’re ready to play.”

Junior Tanner Gueller has the quarterback responsibilities for Idaho State and was 20-of-33 for 289 yards, throwing to eight different players for three touchdowns in his college debut Thursday. Wells described him as a “big, strong-armed quarterback.”

Sophomore running back Ty Flannigan was responsible for 100 of the team’s 142 running yards, averaging more than seven yards per carry.

“Kid is shifty,” Wells said of Flannigan. “We are going to have to bottle him up quickly. I think, as always, stopping the run is important, but that kid can get out and create a little damage if he gets out in the open field.”

Defensively, the Bengals didn’t allow a touchdown, but allowed an average of 41 points per game last season. Andrus said he watched game film on the Bengal defense, and believes the Aggies will be prepared.

“They do a lot of things very similar that our defense does,” he said, “so we’ve been kind of going against the looks since spring ball and all fall camp.

<h3>Injuries</h3>

It’s only week No. 2, but USU already has a few key injuries on both sides of the ball. Linebacker Chase Christiansen missed some time at Wisconsin, but Wells said it was just cramps and that he is doing fine. Running back Tonny Lindsey Jr., according to Wells, will miss some time.

“He’ll be out for a couple weeks here,” Wells said.

There are other injuries to tight end Dax Raymond and linebacker Justus Te’i.

“If they are not season ending, I am not going to talk about them,” Wells said of Raymond and Te’i. “Those people were all game-time decisions, and they are day-to-day just like they were last week. They are in the same boat this week.”

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