Familiarity didn’t do it for Eric Schultz.
“Even being from Washington, I grew up in a fairly Mormon community and everyone seemed to like BYU. I never have liked BYU, so it’s big for me,” Schultz said. “It’s an exciting week for everyone here at Utah State. Everyone gets amped for this game – and I do, too.”
The Connell, Wash., native has been motivated in an Aggie uniform several times now. An offensive lineman, Schultz has blocked in Provo the past two seasons for his quarterback Chuckie Keeton. His team has lost by a combined six points in two contests.
He also was on the sidelines on Oct. 1, 2010, while Keeton, a high school senior at the time, was watching from the stands. That night, the Aggies compiled 242 rushing yards as USU stomped BYU, 31-16, for its first win over the Cougars since 1993.
Joey DeMartino said the victory provided “one of the greatest feelings in his life.”
Tyler Larsen said it was “absolutely crazy” to make history.
Safety Cameron Sanders said “words can’t describe” what it meant to get “weight off of (their) shoulders.”
Keeton has said the win, with its boisterous fans sensing a rising program, helped convince him to commit to take his talents to Logan.
Schultz, DeMartino, Larsen and Sanders all played key roles in that ESPN-televised win. Ten other seniors and two juniors preparing for BYU’s return to Cache Valley Friday were also on the field that night. Will they replicate the magic of an evening found earlier in their careers?
Here's a look at the players on USU's roster that were in Logan in 2010 when USU last beat BYU.
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. firstname.lastname@example.org | @wilklogan
Larsen, who has started every game in his USU career, is the lone returning Aggie who started that 2010 game.
Larsen said the Aggies’ efforts against the Cougars the past two seasons were as strong as in 2010, but it was BYU that made an extra play. In 2011, QB Riley Nelson connected with Marcus Mathews on a tipped pass with 11 seconds remaining, and last year, a missed field goal from Utah State's Josh Thompson proved the difference in a defensive bout.
“The bottom line is who makes more plays at the end, but we played great from a team standpoint,” Larsen said, emphasizing the 2010 win and 2011 loss. “We want to direct their play. Their defense is about the same and their offense has changed, but the bottom line is that we have got to make one more play.”
Sounds like a man in charge. That shouldn’t be a surprise: even as a freshman, the Salt Lake City native made all the blocking calls for the Aggie offense.
DeMartino, who leads USU backs in carries in recent weeks, had five carries for 16 yards behind Derrvin Speight (23 carries, 95 yards, two touchdowns), Diondre Borel (10 carries, 74 yards) and Kerwynn Williams (15 carries, 62 yards). On fourth-quarter, third-down play, DeMartino muscled a screen pass for a first down to assure the game would remain out of BYU’s grasp.
“I didn’t have much of a role, but it was good to get my plays in there,” he said modestly. “Players were not giving up on plays and Diondre was scrambling, finding a way to get open. We were definitely scoring in the red zone and talking care of the football.”
In five trips to the red zone, the Aggies scored four touchdowns fumbled just once in 59 carries.
The San Diego native played in 11 games in 2010 (one start). He redshirted in 2011 before playing in just seven games in 2012, mostly on special teams. With 345 rushing yards (7.3 ypc) so far this season, some have said he’s experienced a football revival.
Diaz redshirted in 2011, but was USU’s kickoff specialist in the win with six boots for 364 yards (60.7 yards per kick). Overall, he kicked off 36 times for 2,159 yards that season.
After Thompson’s well-publicized late-game struggles, Diaz was the Aggies’ place-kicker for the final seven games of the season. He made 10-of-13 field goals and all 40 extra points attempt, which are eighth and first all-time at USU, respectively. He was named the WAC’s Special Teams Player of the Week after just the second game following Thompson’s miss at BYU.
However, Diaz’s doinked attempt at USC invoked memories among many Aggie fans of Thompson’s misses last year at Wisconsin and BYU. In fact, the distance (37 yards) was the same.
The cornerback made four stops against BYU in 2010. He totaled 31 in all 12 games that season. He saw action in all 13 games in 2011 before suffering a season-ending knee injury last year in the Wisconsin loss. The Miami, Fla. native is back this year after receiving a medical redshirt.
Doughty made three of his 22 tackles in 2010 against the Cougars.
Since, the linebacker played in all 13 games in 2011 before making a leap last season when he led USU in tackles and earned first-team all-WAC honors.
Sanders made two tackles from the safety position against BYU as part of a 28-stop season.
“It was very exciting,” Sanders said. “The crowd was loud – half was theirs, half ours. Coach (Gary Andersen) had us prepped.”
His favorite memory?
“The last two minutes, knowing we got the win,” he said. “The crowd lined up to rush the field.”
The Oklahoma City, Okla., native played in just four games in 2011 after battling an elbow injury before appearing in nine games last season when he made 12 tackles.
The Dallas native got one carry for two yards in the victory. Marshall has since played behind NFL running backs Robert Turbin, Michael Smith and Williams, and is a third option this season with DeMartino and Joe Hill.
Marshall saw action in nine games (one start) in 2010 before playing in 13 games (two starts) in 2011. He played in the first seven games of last season, including a start at BYU, before suffering a season-ending injury at San Jose State the next week.
One of Lawson’s nine appearances in 2010 was against the Cougars and he had one tackle. He started all 12 regular season games in 2011 and all 13 last season, wheich earned the Lauderhill, Fla., native second-team all-WAC honors.
The BYU game was one of seven the Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., native played in that season. He played in 10 contests in 2011 before starting eight last year when he caught 25 passes. He currently leads USU in touchdown receptions (three) and has been an Academic All-WAC performer from 2010-12.
The converted tight end actually registered a quarterback hurry of BYU signal-caller Jake Heaps in 2010. That year, Tialavea played in nine games. The West Jordan, Utah, native started in six of 13 games in 2011 before starting seven of 12 last fall despite the presence of all-conference honoree Kellen Bartlett.
The Provo native didn’t have any receptions against the team from his backyard. However, he saw action in 10 games, starting each of the final three games of the season. He started five and two games in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and is tied with Reynolds in receptions (21) this season.
Markosian saw action in five games at different positions in 2010 before playing in all 13 games in 2011. Last year, the Salt Lake City native started all 13 games at left guard and he earned second-team all-WAC honors.
The BYU win was the only game in which Schultz did not appear in 2010. He started the final six games of the season at right tackle. The next fall, he started all 13 games, first at right guard against Auburn before shifting to right tackle the rest of the way. Schultz earned first-team all-WAC honors after tying Larsen for the team lead in performance grade (86 percent).
The defensive end may end up never playing in Logan against the Cougars. He is day-to-day for the BYU game Friday. He didn’t get on the field in 2010 against the Cougars. He appeared in two games. Already a Canadian Football League draft pick, the Kanata, Ontario, Canada, native an honorable mention all-WAC player last season and started all 13 games in 2012. In 2011, he played in all 13 contests and was an Academic All-WAC selection in 2010 and 2011.
He remained on the sidelines against BYU in 2010 and as the backup to Nick Diaz this season. The hometown Logan native may not get to redeem himself after missing a 37-yard field goal attempt last season against BYU, which would have tied the game.
After previously missing a go-ahead field goal against Wisconsin, Thompson was replaced by Diaz for the final weeks of last season. But as a sophomore in 2011, he played in all 13 games as the main field goal and extra points kicker, setting USU records for single-season extra points made and attempted.
The cornerback saw action in all games, but the BYU contest in 2010. He played multiple positions that season. The Miami native redshirted the following season and played in 12 games last fall.