Ags hope to heal before home opener
Utah State's Romney Stadium has been silent for nearly a year. During that time, the Aggies are 1-4 on the road, including their last three games at Utah, Nebraska and Arizona State. "We'll learn from this. I think we're getting better," Aggie coach Mick Dennehy said. "Losing sucks and it always has and it always will, but I think we're getting closer and closer." Needless to say, Dennehy is happy to be back in Logan. "It's going to be nice to be home," he said. "It's not going to guarantee anything. It's time we get back to the confines of friendly Romney Stadium." Yes, their home turf has been good to the Aggies. Last year they went 3-2. It could have easily been 4-1, but they blew a 34-7 halftime lead to BYU. The Aggies' last home win was a 32-30 decision over New Mexico State Nov. 9. They will open their five-game home slate Sept. 27 vs. Louisiana-Monroe. It is also their Sun Belt Conference opener. The game will come 14 days after the Aggies' 26-16 loss to No. 16 Arizona State. During that time the Aggies hope to get healthy and regroup after three straight road losses. "We've got a bye in order to get some things squared away," Dennehy said. "It couldn't have come at a better time." Defender John Chick will most likely play for the first time this year after injuring his thumb in fall practice. It also gives WR Jerome Eason and RB Richard Watson an additional week to heal from their Week 1 injuries. They both have missed the last two games. The Aggies, however, will be without TE Chris Cooley, who broke his foot in the Arizona State loss. He will be out four to six weeks. Despite their 0-3 start, the Aggies are getting better, and that's been Dennehy's focus during this brutal stretch. "I think we've played as tough a streak of games out of the blocks that we've ever played," he said. "I really think that this team has a chance to be a little bit better. I think we have a chance to be better defensively than we have been." The defense really hasn't been the problem. Yes, it's given up 400-plus yards in two consecutive games, but the offense's ineffectiveness has put the defense in tough situations. For the most part, the defense has responded. It held Nebraska to four field goals and forced a fumble on the 1-yard line. Against Arizona State, the Aggies came up with a big interception, a fumble on the goal line, and held on a fourth-and-goal on the 1. It still ranks near the bottom nationally in team defense, but the outlook is promising. "I'm pleased right now with the way our defensive guys have rallied," Dennehy said. "If we make everybody that we play work as hard as we made Arizona State work for those scores — except for the first one — we're going to be just fine." The Aggie offense recovered from a meager 238-yard performance at Nebraska with a 373-yard outing at Arizona State. The Aggies scored just nine points in the second half of the 10-point loss, but showed signs of improvement. "I think we'll get better offensively," Dennehy said. "As well as we did some things on offense (Saturday) we weren't as consistent as we need to be." But that's what a bye week is for: to improve on weaknesses and heal. "I think we're getting better in some areas and there are some things we need to clean up a bit, but I honestly believe we're not that far away," Dennehy said. Following their game with La.-Monroe, the Aggies will travel to New Mexico before returning for an Oct. 11 meeting with Wyoming.
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