Halfway through the season: What has gone right (and wrong) for USU football?

LOGAN – With six games down and six games to go, the Utah State football team is at the midway point of its season.

The team’s record is currently at the .500 mark both overall (3-3) and in conference (1-1), which indicates that so far, there has likely been some good and bad.

The following is a look at statistics through the first six games that show some of the things that are going well for USU, and others that aren’t.

<h3>The good:</h3>

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<ul><li><strong>Jalen Davis.</strong> With five interceptions, and three of those returned for touchdowns, the senior corner was recently named to ESPN’s midseason All-America team. His five picks rank second nationally and his 1.83 passes defended per game rank third.</li><li><strong>USU is No. 1 at blocking punts.</strong> Utah State has four blocked punts, more than any other team in Division-I football. The second most is Florida State, with two. Two of USU’s blocks were credited to DJ Nelson, who returned his most recent for six.</li></ul>

“It’s 11 guys out there who are able to do it,” Nelson said after the BYU game. “We believe in it and when the opportunity comes, we’re ready to go get it. It’s something we practice and something we believe in.”

<ul><li><strong>The Aggie defense forces turnovers.</strong> Even though USU has turned the ball over 11 times, the Aggies have forced enough turnovers to rank 24th nationally in turnover margin. With nine recovered fumbles and seven interceptions, Utah State has forced at least four more turnovers than any other team in conference.</li><li><strong>USU’s defense is solid on fourth down.</strong> The Aggies join San Diego State as one of the only two conference teams that have not allowed the opposing offense to convert on a fourth down. Aggie opponents have come up short on all seven attempts.</li><li><strong>Kicking.</strong> The field goal kicking and extra point attempts have been close to perfect. The only miss in 11 tries was a blocked 38-yard attempt in the win over BYU.</li><li><strong>Suli Tamaivena is fitting in nicely during his first year at USU.</strong> The linebacker’s nine tackles per game rank seventh in the Mountain West and 35th nationally. Tamaivena also ranks fifth nationally with his two recovered fumbles.</li></ul><h3>The bad:</h3>

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<ul><li><strong>Aggie quarterbacks are being sacked – a lot.</strong> Utah State ranks 121st nationally and last in conference in sacks allowed. Overall, USU’s quarterbacks have been sacked 20 times for 116 yards. The seven sacks allowed versus Colorado State were the most allowed by any conference team in a single game this year.</li><li><strong>When opposing teams have gotten inside USU’s 20, they have scored every time.</strong> USU red zone defense is tied for last place nationally. In 16 trips, USU opponents have scored nine touchdowns and seven field goals.</li><li><strong>Punter Aaron Dalton sees the field too much.</strong> There have only been four times this season when a Mountain West team has punted at least 10 times in a single game. Two of those belong to USU. The Aggies punted 10 times at Wake Forest and another 10 against Colorado State. USU punter Aaron Dalton has booted the ball more than 1,600 yards through six games this year.</li></ul>

“It’s a great thing when I never go out there,” Dalton said, “but when I do, I’ll be ready.”

<ul><li><strong>USU is turning the ball over.</strong> It was previously mentioned that USU has the best turnover margin in the conference, but it could be a lot better. With the exception of Nevada and San Jose State, the Aggies have thrown more interceptions than any other conference team, and have added three fumbles to the total.</li></ul>

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