LOGAN — It has not been the dream season the seniors on this Utah State team hoped it would be.
But after reeling off two straight victories, including last week's 38-34 victory at San Jose State, the seniors on the team can hold their heads high. It appears that the Aggie football program is finally headed in the right direction.
"It was a big game for the program," running back Derrivn Speight said. "We knew that we had to come out with a win. We had been preaching it all week, just go out and make plays. We started off kind of slow, and got down by 10 points. The offensive line opened up some big holes for me, and I was able to get up on the board. Overall, we just kept battling and came out with a victory."
The Aggies didn't any style points, but it was a big teaching opportunity for a team still learning how to win.
"It was a tremendous victory," USU coach Gary Andersen said. "We needed to get the road win, and we found a way at the end of the day."
Perhaps the largest change in the program is coming from the attitude of the players.
"The kids were making plays and they are fighting through a lot," Andersen said. "Nobody's head is going down. The energy is different and the mindset is different. I just think that this football team now believes that they can fight through difficulty. That is going to carry us for the rest of the games this season and for the games in the future."
OVERCOMING MISTAKES: One area Andersen has seen a lot of improvement in the team over the last few weeks has been in playing through mistakes.
"It comes down to if the kids are going to make plays in that scenario," Andersen said. "Our mentality was waiting for someone else to make plays. Bad teams do that, they pray for someone else to be able to bail them out. Bad teams look at each other and say somebody has to make a play. In the last two weeks that has changed, if that holds up in the future, that is when we will start having consistent victories."
Earlier in the season a dropped pass, missed block or penalty would immediately spell the end of the drive even if it came on first or second down.
Over the last two games the team has overcome adversity and the offensive has been able to stay on the field, as evidenced by the incredible 92 offensive snaps the Aggies had last week.
"We didn't play well enough on defense to win the football game, but the offense gave us the opportunity to do that," Andersen said.
COACH REUNION: Saturday marks a reunion of sorts between Idaho head coach Robb Akey and Andersen. The two served together on the Northern Arizona staff in the mid '90s with Andersen as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach, while Akey served as the Lumberjacks special teams and defensive coordinator.
"We know a lot about each other, and I know that they will be ready and we will be ready," Andersen said. "When it comes to the coaching world and past the coaching world, we are very good friends."
Utah State defensive coordinator Bill Busch was also on that Northern Arizona staff as the secondary coach and current Idaho offensive coordinator Steve Axman was the head coach for the Lumberjacks at the time.