Opponent spotlight: Utah State

Eric Wolf

Utah State Aggies: 2-3 (0-2 MW)

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9/1: Weber State: W 45-6

9/10: @ Southern California: L 45-7

9/16: Arkansas State: W 34-20

9/24: Air Force: L 24-20

10/1: @ #24 Boise State: L 21-10

In what will be CSU’s second conference match-up of the 2016 season, the 2-3 Utah State Aggies come to town. On paper, the Aggies might not look as strong as they have in recent memory, but coach Mike Bobo reiterated a point that the Aggies are still playing their typical brand of football in the Mountain West.


Offense:

Offensive Stats:

Scoring: 23.2 ppg

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Rushing: 157.6 ypg

Passing: 219.8 ypg

Total: 377.4 ypg

Colorado State fans should be familiar with Utah State starting quarterback Kent Myers. The dual-threat quarterback made the first start of his season last year against CSU in week six in a game where he put up 191 yards rushing on 16 carries. Since then, Myers has continually progressed, and this is another week in which the Rams’ defense faces the challenge of trying to contain a quarterback that can break down a defense with his legs or his arm.

“I think you see a guy who is more comfortable playing the quarterback position,” coach Mike Bobo said of Myers during his game week press conference. “Anytime you play a guy who is confident throwing the ball downfield and has the ability to run the ball…he is a threat. He his going to make some plays.”

This year, Myers has thrown for 1,0847 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 156 yards. But the junior has been working more with his arm this season, as through five games, Myers is thirteen attempts away from matching his numbers from last season in eight contests.

Right now, the Aggies are without leading tailback Devante Mays, who ran for over 200 yards in the team’s first game before injuring his knee against Southern California. Mays came back against Air Force two weeks ago, only to aggravate the injury and he has not played since. Junior back Tonny Lindsey has been the lead runner in Mays’ absence, rushing for 308 yards and three scores on 71 carries.

On the outside, sophomore Ron’Quavion Tavers has been Myers’ favorite target this season catching 21 balls for 233 yards and one score, while Rayshad Lewis, son of former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, has made his own impact as a freshman, recording 19 receptions for 267 yards and one touchdown.

On the offensive line, seniors Jake Simonich, Austin Albrecht and Austin Stephens, who were all named honorable mention All-Mountain West players a year ago, return to anchor Utah State’s front.

Defense:

Scoring: 23.8 ppg

Rush: 144.6 ypg

Pass: 202.1 ypg

Total: 346.8 ypg

Going into the Minnesota game, Bobo said that the Gophers were the best defensive team the Rams would see all year. But with Utah State coming in this week, it’s new team, same theme.

“Defensively, they are probably going to be the best defense we have played up to this point,” Bobo said. “They have guys that are athletic, they play free to me on defense. They feed off of each other. It’s scary watching the film right now of them defensively of how we are going to move the ball and what we are going to do (offensively).”

The Aggies lost defensive playmakers to the NFL in linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Nick Vigil, but even in their absence, the Aggies are still playing their typical good brand defense.

Utah State currently ranks 30th in the nation in total defense, and in their 21-10 loss to Boise State last week, the Aggies became the first team to hold the high-powered Bronco offense to fewer than 30 points and 400 yards in a game. While in their loss to Air Force, Utah State held the Falcons to 213 yards on the ground when Air Force came in averaging over 430 yards rushing per game.

Again, the group is led in the linebacking corp by seniors Brock Carmen and Anthony Williams. Despite only starting the last two contests, Williams leads the team in tackles with 37, while Carmen ranks second on the team in tackles with 30, to go along with two sacks.

But after being ejected for a third quarter targeting penalty against Boise State last week, Williams will have to sit out the first half on Saturday.

As a unit, the Aggies have recorded 33 tackles-for-loss this season, good for 33rd in the country, while eight different players have at least one sack.

Utah State has a playmaker in the defensive backfield in junior cornerback Jalen Davis, who has 22 tackles and four pass break-ups in five games, but for the third straight game, the team will most likely be without safety Dallin Leavitt in the secondary.

Leavitt, a junior transfer from BYU, was emerging as a defensive leader for Utah State, recording 29 tackles and two interceptions, before he was injured in the Air Force game.

Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5