PROVO — German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once famously said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." If that axiom is true, Utah State is going to have one of the strongest teams in the nation, as long as the Aggies don't die from heartbreak first.
Utah State has put its opponent against the ropes in three games. The Aggies have led by at least four points with less than two minutes left in all three losses only to see their opponent respond with a haymaker in the final seconds and leave them wondering what went wrong.
The positive for the Aggies is that they are becoming experts on how to bounce back from a devastating loss.
"I'm going to be better this week than last week," said head coach Gary Andersen. "I've learned a lot. I'm not asking for anything anymore. I'm going to get this team prepared. I'm going to get them to fight. I'm not looking for anything but the kids in the program to go out and prepare."
The hope for Andersen is that the team learns from the adversity and can turn the season around and win a bowl game much like the 1993 Utah State team. That Charlie Weatherbie coached squad started 1-5 with a two-point loss at Utah, a four-point loss to Baylor and a four-point loss to Nevada.
Following the Nevada loss the Aggies gelled and ripped off six consecutive wins, including a 42-33 victory over Ball State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
"I'm very proud of these kids. I think they get better every week. I truly believe that. I think their minds are right and their minds will stay right.
There is a lot of care in that locker room. There is a lot of belief in that locker room. There are a lot of life lessons being learned in that locker room. I love being their coach and love being part of them."
Andersen is also hoping that the life lessons translate to success on the field and after the players have graduated and moved on from football.
"At some point in life when these young men have some adversity in their life, whether it is 10 years from now or who knows, they are going to face adversity in different ways. Hopefully they can learn from this experience once we drag ourselves out of it, which we will. It may really help some young men down the road in life. That's the only positive I can see so I'm grabbing onto that."
The immediate future for the Aggies is trying to put another loss in the rearview mirror and moving on to face Wyoming to try and turn the ship around.
"There is still work left to do. We want to be WAC champs. There is still work left to do," said running back Robert Turbin. "We lost. Close game. We wanted to win. Yeah, it was a rivalry game. Yeah, it would have given us some momentum going into Wyoming. Well, guess what? That's life. We didn't win. Boo-hoo. Come back Monday and get ready to work."
As long as the Aggies have that fire and desire to keep working through the adversity, they will only keep getting stronger.