Last fall saw Utah State's offense have one of its most successful seasons. The Aggies scored 56 touchdowns (third most in school history) in 14 games while setting school records for completions, receiving touchdowns and first downs.
As much as the "skill" positions excite the fans, any football coach will tell you that it starts with the offensive line.
While three all-Mountain West linemen (Tyler Larsen, Jamie Markosian and Eric Schultz) and two other regulars are gone, the Aggies should be able to reload.
USU has experience at all five offensive linemen positions — including senior left tackle Kevin Whimpey (6-foot-5, 295 pounds), who has started 26 straight games. Other seniors include guard Bill Vavau (6-4, 314), center Joe Summers (6-2, 294) and tackle Bryce Walker (6-8, 303).
Whimpey is poised to be the leader on the Aggies' line. The former Lone Peak graduate took the scenic route to Logan. He played one season at Idaho State before going on a two-year mission to California for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He redshirted for USU in 2011 but has been a starter ever since. He had 35 knockdowns last year — including eight against BYU.
With two sophomores (Austin Albrecht, 6-5, 287; Jake Simonich, 6-5, 286) and two redshirt freshmen (Tyshon Mosley, 6-5, 305; Brandon Taukeiaho, 6-4, 321) all poised to push the upperclassmen for playing time, the Aggies signed just two O-linemen during this year's National Letter of Intent day.
USU also has a true freshman, a 2013 signee out of Pine View High School, Cody Boyer (6-6, 260), at its disposal.
Sophomore Austin Stephens (6-3, 290), who redshirted last season, goes into fall camp as the co-No. 1 center with Summers. The West Des Moines, Iowa, native has a winning pedigree. In 2012, Stephens earned all-conference honors helping to lead the Iowa Western Reivers to the NJCAA national championship.
All college football programs are constantly losing players (graduation, injury, etc.), so the key is to have the next player up and ready to go. The Aggies seem to have the right mix of experience and youth, but only time will tell if it will all come together.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company