Aggie football creates the legacy it hoped to leave

By Megan Allen

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Dec. 16 2011 9:12 a.m. MST

"We've put in so much hard work, and so many guys before us have put in so much hard work that it's like we deserve it," Koskan said. "There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into getting to this point, so it's really exciting."

For this senior class, to finally have a winning season means everything. From starting their Utah State careers at 2-10, to a 7-5 season and going to a bowl game, they have put in hours of effort and dedication into the game.

"After five years, it's been a long haul, but we all knew what kind of work it was going to take," said senior linebacker Kyle Gallagher We all knew we had it, we just had to learn to finish and that's what we finally did."

Sophomore center Tyler Larsen is taking full advantage of the winning record.

"After all these hard battles that we've fought, we're getting rewarded," he said. "It feels great to be a part of the team that is finally getting this program turned around. Nothing can beat that feeling. My whole entire life I've never been on a winning team."

In November, when the Aggies hosted Nevada at home, they knew a lot was at stake. In the final minutes of the game, Kennedy had the ball on the 48-yard line on a third-and-10. He snuck through a hole in the line to get the first down. Larsen, realizing the significance of the play, gave Aggie fans a small celebratory dance, something atypical for the reserved, quiet lineman.

"That moment we knew we were bowl eligible and had carried the team to that point, that's where it all came from," Larsen said of showing his emotions after that play.

Why did the team start winning? What was it that clicked to lead them to the most successful season the Aggies have seen in years? It's really pretty simple.

"At the end of the day, it's about one thing. We put it on our wristbands that we handed out at the beginning of the year. Players make plays, players win games," Andersen said. "As coaches we're here to give them a plan and ask them to execute it.

"It's one thing if you're not playing hard. It's another if you're having a lot of missed assignments and aren't executing. We just weren't quite making the plays at the beginning of the year. Since Hawaii, we've been able to make those plays five times in a row. Are we perfect? No, we're far from it, but we started to make plays and that's what it's all about."

Leave a legacy. That's what this team wanted to do, and that is what they have accomplished. They have played a vital role in turning around the football program at Utah State. As this season wraps up, the next step is carrying on the legacy and having continued success. The validation they have created for themselves will carry on to create the USU football program for which everyone has longed.

"The biggest thing now is the validation for the hard work that they've done," Andersen said. "They've made some great strides this year, so to have the validation as a group come January, they know the work they do matters. Now there's an expectation the seniors and team leaders have set, that's a big part of carrying that over."

"We wanted to leave a footprint, leave something that the upcoming players could learn from. Hopefully they follow the formula and do better than we have from the beginning," Smith said. "Just take everything in, be coachable. It's not all about the physicality and strength, your mind has to be strong. Be humble, but stay hungry. Be confident, but not arrogant."

For more Aggie Football Famous Idaho Potato Bowl ticket information, fans can contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) or 435-797-0305, in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

The Aggies will face Ohio University from the Mid-American Conference in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 3:30 p.m. (MT) at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho,

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is the second game of the entire bowl calendar and the only one in its time slot. The Bowl will be telecast nationally on ESPN and broadcast on ESPN Radio. Five of the previous seven games have been decided on the last drive, with an average score of 38-25 over the past 14 Bowls.

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