LOGAN — It is now or never for Utah State football this season. Across the program the stated goal was to make a bowl game this season. Now, sitting at 2-5 coming out of the final bye week of the season, the Aggies can hardly afford a slip up if they want to turn the dream into a reality.
Utah State is no doubt talented enough to put a run together to finish the season on a hot streak and still contend for both a bowl game and a WAC title. Before they can do that, they must first get past the mental block that has plagued them in close games all season. The Aggies have led all seven games they have played going into the fourth quarter, but have just two victories to show for it.
"I am pretty sure there was (some players losing faith)," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "It is never a good situation when you keep coming up short but all of our guys are focused and we are ready to play and ready to get some more wins under our belt."
Thankfully for the Aggies, the bye week came just in time to help the team refocus and try to stop the downward spiral they were stuck in.
"I definitely feel that we also worked on our mental side," said Wagner on the team's bye week. "We just came together as a team. We understand that we have been in some tough situations this year, but we also know that we have a lot of games left. If we win them we can still possibly reach our goal. That was basically the focus, just staying positive."
EXTRA WEEK WELCOMED: Besides being able to refocus on the entire program, the bye week also allowed the Aggies to get an extra week of preparation on Hawaii.
"Defensively, we focused on tackling and getting a hang of their offense, jump-starting their offense because it is a pretty complicated offense," Wagner said. "I think we are doing a good job of getting it down."
"We knocked some of the kinks out of our offense and defense got prepared very well. We didn't take it lightly," added running back Michael Smith.
"We put new wrinkles in our offense, but at the same time we are still running the ball as we planned from the beginning."
Hawaii is the first opponent the Aggies have had extra preparation time for since playing Colorado State following a bye week in the third game of the season. The previous four Utah State opponents all had at least one extra day to game plan for the Aggies.
COACHES TAKE A LOOK AT BACKUPS: The bye week was also a benefit for the coaches to get a longer look at some of the reserves who don't see a lot of time on the field or get many reps in practice.
"The developmental young men had a full week of their normal lifting and we got them out and scrimmaged them twice," said head coach Gary Andersen. "It was great to get those kids on film. It is great to evaluate. It helps us for them moving in the right direction and it also helps us from a recruiting stand point, to see where exactly those kids are sitting right now."