#88 Utah State 2018 Football Preview

Utah State Aggies
Overall Rank: #88
#6 Mountain West
 Utah State Logo
After missing out on a bowl in 2016, Utah State did well to win six games and return to a bowl game in 2017. The Aggies struggled a bit down the stretch though, losing their regular season finale at Air Force and falling to New Mexico State in the Arizona Bowl in overtime.
2017 Record: 6-7, 4-4
2017 Bowl: Arizona Bowl vs. New Mexico State (L 20-26)
Coach: Matt Wells (34-32 at Utah State, 34-32 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: David Yost
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Patterson, Frank Maile
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Eltoro Allen, RB, 284 yards
Passing: Jordan Love, QB, 1,631 yards
Receiving: Ron’quavion Tarver, WR, 569 yards
Tackles: Suli Tamaivena, LB, 111
Sacks: Suli Tamaivena, LB, 3.0; Deante Fortenberry, CB, 3.0
Interceptions: 3 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: TE Dax Raymond, WR Jordan Nathan, OL Roman Andrus, OL Quin Ficklin, S Gaje Ferguson, LB Chase Christianson, CB Ja’Marcus Ingram, CB Cameron Haney
Key Losses: RB LaJuan Hunt, QB Kent Meyers, DB Jalen Davis, DB Dallin Leavitt
With nine starters returning, the Aggies have high hopes for their offense. Sophomore Jordan Love split time with Kent Myers as a freshman, but this is his team now. Love threw for 1,631 yards with eight touchdowns, while completing just 54.9 percent of his passes and throwing eight interceptions. His consistency should improve with a year of experience under his belt. However, Love will need some receivers to step up to help out Ron’quavion Tarver, who led the team with 48 receptions for 569 yards and seven scores. Savon Scarver will likely start on the other side after catching 11 passes as a freshman. If he can continue making big plays, but do it on a more regular basis, the passing game will be in much better shape. LaJuan Hunt and Myers were the most prolific rushers on the team last year and will need to be replaced. Love can do a little damage with his feet, but Myers was a better overall rusher from the quarterback position. At running back, Eltoro Allen and Gerold Bright should be able to at least keep the defense honest behind an offensive line that returns all five starters.
The secondary that only allowed 182.5 yards per game through the air will have to move on without All-Mountain West honorees Jalen Davis and Dallin Leavitt. Those two combined to pick off an impressive nine passes. But there are options in the secondary. Safety Gaje Ferguson recorded 90 tackles in 2017. Ja’Marcus Ingram and Cameron Haney were also starters last season and are ready to play larger roles this year. The Aggies are also high on redshirt freshman cornerback Andre Grayson. The front seven should be in better shape. The front three were very young last year and should be strong with nose guard Christopher ‘Unga manning the middle and Devon Anderson, Logan Lee and Adewale Adeoye are all decent ends, but they do need to get to the quarterback more often. Chase Christiansen and Suli Tamaivena are experienced inside linebackers who combined for 182 tackles in 2017. They will need to get some help from the new outside linebackers, most notably Tipa Galeai.
The Bottom Line:
Utah State has the potential for a big turnaround this year. If Love can consistently make big plays while avoiding mistakes, the offense could be explosive. The defense has experience, but the unit must do better stopping the run. Even if the defense does not improve, this is a group that should be able to navigate their schedule and get back to a bowl game.
Projected Bowl: Idaho Potato Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 171.4 (56th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 226.0 (69, 6)
Total Offense: 397.4 (68, 8)
Scoring Offense: 30.2 (51, 5)
Rushing Defense: 216.4 (115, 9)
Pass Defense: 182.5 (19, 4)
Total Defense: 398.8 (73, 7)
Scoring Defense: 26.9 (67, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (30, 5)
Sacks: 1.85 (83, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.15 (72, 9)