Meet the UTAgs...

UTAH STATE HAS a number of reasons to want to give the Broncos a rude welcoming in Logan on Saturday, from the last meeting, (a 63-38 drubbing that wasn't as close as the score indicates), to the fact that their current coach wanted, at least briefly, the position that was given to Coach Hawk, to the fact that the Broncos have a streak of 4 wins currently on the Aggies, and own the series 7-4, including a 3-2 mark in Logan...

So now that the Aggies are in the WAC.. what can we expect from them? Well... historically, Utah State has been a good team, but not a great team. Lets put it this way, an Aggie win against Boise State would give USU a 3-3 record, which would be their best six-game start since 1983. So while the Aggies have struggled, they've had outstanding individual players. Who can forget Emmitt White and DeMario Brown? I still remember watching the Bronco's gang tackling Brown in Logan and needing 6 or 7 guys to slow him down.

Those days, however, are gone in Logan now. The new Utah State, the Brent Guy Aggies, have returned to some of their old ways.. USU is 8-2 in its last 10 conference home games, and they haven't lost consecutive games this season.. something Boise State can't boast.

However not all is well in Logan. Utah State has lost their last 8 road games, and they havn't been lead in rushing by an actual Running Back yet this year. Let me say that again.. their RUNNING backs haven't led the team in RUNNING through 5 games! DeMario.. where have you gone?

What the Aggies do have, however, is a very talented, athletic Quarterback in Leon Jackson III. Jackson is a 6'2 190lb Sophomore who does just about everything for the Aggies. He has lead them in rushing twice this season, (Utah & Idaho), and even stepped in last year as a Freshman to take over the punting duties after their regular punter was injured, and averaged 42.3 yards per punt to rank 32nd in the NCAA's.

On the season, Jackson is 74/121 for 792 yards and an even 5/5 on TD's to INT's. Those are pretty good stats, however his yards per attempt are only 6.5, something that shows that the Aggies don't go downfield much. (By comparison, the big complaint about the Broncos has been the lack of a vertical passing attack, and Z averages 7.7 ypa)

Apart from Jackson, the Aggies have a couple of WR's that really stand out from the crowd in Tony Pennyman and Kevin Robinson.

Pennyman leads the Aggies in receptions and yards with 26 for 264 and 1 score. A sure-handed possession receiver, Pennyman, (who at 5'9 will remind Bronco fans of Gilligan), isn't flashy, but runs great routes and doesn't drop much. Robinson, on the other hand, has the speed to be the deep threat. Robinson, a 6-foot speedster who averages 16.4 ypc, has 10 fewer catches than Pennyman, but trails him in total yards by only 2. Pennyman also has 5 TD receptions in 5 games.

Where these Aggies differ from those of old, however, is in the running department, where no running back averages over 3.2 yards per carry. (Contrast with Boise State who has 4 RB's averaging 3.8 or better in Ian (5.6), Lee (5.4), Carp (4.4), and Antwuan (3.8))

The Aggies lack of a credible rushing attack, (less than 100 yards per game), had led to the Aggies averaging a meager 264 total yards on Offense, dead last in the WAC. Boise State averages 220 on the ground alone. While the Aggies avearge less than 100 yards on the ground, their passing attack isn't much better, averaging 166.4 ypg, again, last in the WAC

So how can such an anemic Offense have led the Aggies to wins over UNLV and San Jose State? Well.. their Defense is ranked 5th in the WAC against both the rush and the pass, allowing only 148.6 yards on the ground and 234.4 yards through the air per contest. That might seem like a lot of yardage given up, but the Broncos allow on average nearly 10 more yards through the air than the Aggies. That means that on average, the Aggies allow less than 30 yards more than the Bronco defense. It's the Aggie defense that's kept them within reach in nearly all their games.

The Aggie Defense is built around outstanding Linebackers, and the Aggies have that in Freshman Jake Hutton. Hutton, a 6' 215lb Pocatello native, leads the Aggies with 42 total tackles, good enough to be ranked the 3rd highest total for any Freshman in the NCAA.

Apart from Hutton, DE John Chick (6'4 250lbs) has 5.5 sacks on the season, and Jarrett Bush, (a 6'1 190lb CB) has 2 INT's to go along with his 29 total tackles.

Utah State has been inconsistent this first year n the WAC, howveer that is the trait of a young team, and that is what Coach Guy has in Logan.. a young, but very talented team... and therein lies the danger. Young, talented teams often don't know they aren't supposed to be able to win against better opponents.

Bottom line, the Broncos should be able to run their way to victory, sprinkling in along the way a few of those long passes that suddenly materialized against San Jose State.. but what Bronco fans have to worry about is if anybody bothered to tell the Aggie youngsters that they're supposed to lose.

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