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Ryan Talbot, Utah State Athletics
Sophomore center Tyler Larsen (58) has a nickname for USU's offensive line: The Legion.
That's the way it's been my whole life," Larsen said about the offensive line being overlooked. "I don't get to score. I just do it for the love of the game.

LOGAN — The list of memorable highlight plays for this year's Utah State football team is a lengthy one.

Adam Kennedy finding wide receiver Matt Austin for game-winning touchdowns against San Jose State and at New Mexico State are among them. Bobby Wagner sealing the double-overtime game at Idaho with an interception is a play Aggie fans will talk about for years.

Then there will be Kennedy rumbling for a first down to seal the game against Nevada, which clinched a bowl berth and a Gatorade shower for head coach Gary Andersen.

"I thought Turbin had (the ball)," said sophomore center Tyler Larsen of his perspective on the play. "When I found out Adam (Kennedy) had kept it, it was the best feeling in the world. I still get a hard time about it because I'm normally a pretty laid back guy, but I was excited. I was pumping my fists and yelling."

While all of those moments were great, none of them were Larsen's favorite play of the season. Most of the time, he's too busy blocking the guy in front of him to enjoy the highlights.

"I'd say it was against Idaho. We called one of our favorite plays and Rob (Turbin) ran it for about 80 yards down the field," said Larsen. "Just watching Turbin run was great."

What most won't remember about that play is Larsen sealing the defensive tackle to open the hole, before turning around and picking off another defender. Or Robert Hill pulling across the line and sealing off the other side of the hole. Or Eric Shultz blocking his man 10 yards down field, which allowed Turbin to find his top gear and break away for the score. Such is the existence of the almost-always-invisible offensive lineman — nobody notices you until you make a mistake.

"That's the way it's been my whole life," Larsen said about the offensive line being overlooked. "I don't get to score. I just do it for the love of the game."

In an attempt to do something special for the oft-overlooked offensive line, Larsen went about starting a new tradition this season, dubbing the offensive line "The Legion."

"We had all seen the movie '300,' " explained Larsen. "It comes from the phalanx position the Spartans go into. They cover the person next to them with their shield and push back the enemy.

"From now on, anyone that comes through this program and is on the offensive line is a part of our Legion."

Integral to all the great things that have happened to help turn around the Aggies' season this year has been the stellar play of The Legion. They have paved the way for an explosive offense that ranks sixth in the nation in rushing and 21st in scoring — something few outside of the Aggies' locker room thought possible before the season began.

"The way we communicated through camp, reading complicated blitz pickups that Andersen sent at us, we had made huge steps. We knew we were going to have a good year," said Larsen. "It's been really rewarding for us."

Normally, personal rewards are about all any offensive line gets, but that hasn't been the case this year. Larsen and senior guard Philip Gapelu were both honored on the All-WAC first team and both have NFL aspirations.

"It was unexpected for a sophomore," said Larsen. "I'm happy with all the work that we've put in is paying off."

In addition to the individual accolades, there have been numerous records set that would not have been possible without The Legion.

Individually, Turbin already owns the school career record for total touchdowns and total points, and needs just a single rushing TD to surpass Abu Wilson's career rushing touchdowns mark. The junior running back also needs just 140 yards on the ground to become the single-season rushing record-holder. While The Legion will not go down as the record-holder for any of those marks, it is a point of pride for them to get their running back in the record book.

The records don't stop there. As a team, Utah State has already set school bests for a single season in rushing offense with 3,330 yards, total offense at 5,504 yards, total touchdowns with 57 TDs and total points at 414 — none of which would be possible without excellent play from the offensive line.

All those accomplishments are nice, but The Legion still has one more goal left: come back to Logan with a bowl victory.


Utah State (7-5) vs. Ohio (9-4)

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. MT


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