Utah State Coach Kohn Smith looks at that beefy front line the 49ers start, the same front line that beat the Aggies three times last year, and he starts looking for other places to attack.
"They're just a lot bigger than us," says Smith, remembering 6-foot-11 Mike Masucci, 6-8 Kevin Cutler, 6-4 Troy Joseph and 6-5 guard and team showpiece Lucious Harris. Long Beach, in fact, returns nine lettermen and those four starters from last year's 23-9 club.Meanwhile, the Aggies, who've won two straight but haven't won a Big West Conference game on the road, will be without their most physical inside player, senior Jeff Parris. Parris was left home from this trip to combat what Smith says is a studying problem. "He'd missed some mandatory study halls; I just don't allow that," the coach says.
"That will hurt us," Smith acknowledges.
Despite the veteran lineup, Long Beach carries only a 6-9, 2-4 record into this game. The Aggies are 7-8 and 4-2 and in third place all alone in the BWC.
"Long Beach is a little deceptive," Smith says about the 49er record. Five of their last six games were on the road. They've played at Fresno, at New Mexico State and at Fullerton and Vegas, among the toughest places in the league to visit.