#92 Utah State Football Preview

Utah State Aggies

Overall Rank: #92
#6 WAC

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2010 Record: (4-8, 2-6)
2010 Bowl: none
Coach: Gary Andersen (8-16 at Utah State, 12-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Baldwin
Defensive Coordinator: Gary Andersen

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kerwynn Williams, RB, 451 yards
Passing: Austin Alder, QB, 14 yards
Receiving: Dontel Watkins, WR, 492 yards
Tackles: Bobby Wagner, LB, 133
Sacks: Levi Koskan, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Quinton Byrd, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB, Robert Turbin, TE, Kellen Bartlett, WR, Michael Austin, WR, Stanley Morrison, DE, Quinn Garner, ILB, Kyle Gallagher, and SS Walter McClenton

Key Losses: QB Diondre Borel, K/P, Peter Caldwell, CB, Curtis Marsh, CB, Chris Randle, S, Rajiric Coleman

The need to be more consistent is very important for the Aggies in 2011. They gave Oklahoma all they wanted in Norman last year losing 31-24; they knocked off BYU in resounding fashion, but lost at home to Idaho scoring a paltry six points. The loss of quarterback Diondre Borel is going to be significant challenge as Borel graduated with several school records for Utah State.

The return of all five starters on the offensive line, along with the infusion of three junior college lineman, gives Utah State a strong foundation to work from offensively. Also, running back Robert Turbin, who had 18 touchdowns in 2009, is back fully healthy and should be a force for the Aggies running attack. The depth at the tight end position should help with the transition to a new quarterback and open up the Utah State offense as the season goes along. On defense, Bobby Wagner, the leader in tackles in the WAC conference, brings a toughness and a play-making ability that should help bolster the Aggies ability to get off the field in a more quick and timely fashion in 2011.  Also, Kerwynn Williams’ ability to change field position in the kicking game with explosive returns is going to be an underrated bonus for Utah State as last year Williams had five kickoff returns of at least 60 yards.

It starts on defense; Utah State gave up 428.8 yards and almost 34 points per game in 2010. That has to change in 2011 if the Aggies are to become bowl eligible. Also, the lack of a pass rush and controlling the line of scrimmage is a question mark coming into 2011. Utah State recorded just 13 sacks in 2010. The kicking game is going to be interesting as four year starter at both kicker and punter, Peter Caldwell, is expected to be replaced by Nick Diaz at kicker and junior college transfer Tyler Bennett at punter.
Offensively, the health of returning playmakers like Matt Austin and Stanley Morrison at receiver will bring some uncertainty until they play and stay healthy this fall. Until a proven playmaker at receiver steps up, teams most likely will stack eight or nine guys in the box and dare Utah State with an inexperienced quarterback to beat them in the passing game down the field. Thus, it will be critical for whoever the quarterback is to value the football and manage the game for the Aggies.

The Bottom Line:
The Aggies have a daunting start to their schedule playing the defending national champion Auburn, but the schedule settles down with two winnable games against Weber State and Colorado State. The key is going to be solving the quarterback situation. Alex Hart and Adam Kennedy appear to be the two front runners for the position and it is definitely going to come down to somebody taking control of the job. Having a full complement of starters back on the offensive line should help with this transition.  Moreover, the adjustment to the 3-4 defensive scheme by Coach Gary Andersen will hopefully take advantage of the linebacker depth and put the Aggies defense in a better position to finish off games in the fourth quarter in 2011. With six games at home, Utah State needs to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible if they are to reach six wins.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 168.7 (41st in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 178.7 (93, 8)
Total Offense: 347.3 (84, 7)
Scoring Offense: 22.0 (94, 7)
Rushing Defense: 179.3 (88, 6)
Pass Defense: 249.6 (106, 7)
Total Defense: 428.8 (100, 6)
Scoring Defense: 33.8 (101, 7)
Turnover Margin: -0.42 (83, 5)
Sacks: 1.08 (112, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (72, 6)

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