Aggies want to fix their all-or-nothing offense

LOGAN -- Utah State's offense played almost perfectly in the first half of Saturday's 28-10 victory over Louisiana-Monroe, then struggled like crazy in the second half.

Inconsistency? Not exactly. It's more a case of the Aggies getting into good and bad ruts, and that has happened in each of the last three games. When the Aggies have a good rhythm going, offensive coordinator Bob Cole's play-calling appears brilliant and they sustain long drives. USU scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions Saturday, rarely even facing third-down situations. Yet for long stretches -- the second half at Nebraska, the first quarter at Arizona State and the second half against ULM -- they have had trouble even making a first down. There's no in-between result. The Aggies are either stuck or unstoppable. "We've got to cut down the number of three-and-outs," USU coach Mick Dennehy said Monday. Dennehy believes the offensive players tend to press too much after an unsuccessful possession, which leads to more struggles. So after gaining 260 yards in the first half against the Indians, USU managed only 62 yards in the second half. The Aggies failed to move at all on two occasions after taking over around the ULM 40-yard line and their only second-half points came after Ronald Tupea's fumble recovery at the ULM 2. The Indians "made some adjustments," said center Aric Galliano. "We've just got to counteract those adjustments, and we didn't do a very good job of that." Dennehy blamed some penalties and missed assignments for hurting the Aggies' momentum, pointing out that injuries to tight end Chris Cooley and receivers Jerome Eason and Raymond Hicks have cut into the offense's experience. "It's not an excuse . . . it is kind of an excuse," said Dennehy, noting that USU's complex offense is "not player-friendly" and demands a lot from the receivers in regard to alignments and routes. If they hope to win any of the next three games, the Aggie offense will have to put together a complete game. They will have to play well against good defenses to score an adequate number of points this week at New Mexico and Oct. 18 at North Texas, and will need all the points they can get to match Wyoming's prolific offense next week in Logan. Against ULM, the Aggie offense's second-half failures were topped by the opponent's troubles -- or the USU defense saved the offense, depending on one's perspective. In any case, the Indians had only 43 yards in the second half and lost two turnovers, while allowing three sacks. Tupea, USU's junior nose guard, was named the Sun Belt Conference's defensive player of the week for his play in the Aggies' inaugural game in the league. Besides corralling quarterback Steven Jyles' fumble at the 2, Tupea was involved in three sacks and was credited with six tackles. ULM's 10 points marked the fewest points for an opponent in Dennehy's four seasons and, even with the offense's second-half problems, the 18-point margin was also his biggest at USU. Utah State schedule1-3 (1-0 Sun Belt Conference) Aug. 30 Utah L, 40-20 Last Game: W, 28-21 at Colorado State Record: 3-1 Next: Oregon, Friday Sept. 6 at Nebraska L, 31-7 Last Game: W, 38-14 at Southern Miss Record: 4-0 Next: Troy State, Saturday Sept. 13 at Arizona State L, 26-16 Last Game: L, 45-17 at Oregon State Record: 2-2 Next: USC, Saturday Sept. 27 Louisiana-Monroe W, 28-10 Last Game: L, 28-10 at USU Record: 0-5 Next: at Arkansas State, Saturday Oct. 4 at New Mexico 6 p.m. Last Game: W, 24-17 vs. New Mexico State Record: 2-3 Next: USU, Saturday Oct. 11 Wyoming 6 p.m. Last Game: L, 33-17 at Boise State Record: 1-4 Next: at USU, Oct. 11 Oct. 18 at North Texas 2 p.m. MDT Last Game: W, 44-23 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Record: 2-3 Next: at Idaho, Oct. 11 Oct. 25 Arkansas State 1 p.m. Last Game: L, 38-16 at Memphis Record: 2-3 Next: Louisiana-Monroe, Oct. 11 Nov. 1 Middle Tennessee 1 p.m. Last Game: L, 41-40 (OT) at Missouri Record: 0-4 Next: Temple, Saturday Nov. 6 at New Mexico State 6 p.m. Last Game: L, 24-17 at New Mexico Record: 1-3 Next: Idaho, Saturday Nov. 15 Troy State 1 p.m. Last Game: W, 33-24 vs. Marshall Record: 3-2 Next: at Nebraska, Saturday Nov. 22 at Idaho 3 p.m. MST Last Game: L, 41-28 at Montana Record: 0-5 Next: at New Mexico State, Saturday

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