LOGAN — What a difference a year can make. When the calendar turned to November of 2011, Utah State football was stuck with a 2-5 record and looking down the barrel of yet another losing season. Now a year later, the Aggies have won 12 of 15 games, including seven this season, with the three losses coming by just six combined points.
While the 2011 version of the Aggies was known for its consistently close finishes, the 2012 variety is much easier on the hearts of fans and all about the blowout. In seven victories this season, no team has finished within seven points of the Aggies. The numbers get even bigger in conference play. In three WAC games no team has seriously threatened Utah State. The Aggies have trailed for just over a combined 4 minutes in their three conference games and have an average margin of victory of 29 points.
Utah State (7-2, 3-0 WAC) will look for more of the same on Saturday afternoon when Texas State (3-4, 1-1) comes to town.
The Aggies may have crushed their last few opponents, but they're not satisfied resting on their laurels and are still looking for ways to improve. The defense is sixth in the nation in points allowed at 14.2 per game, but has yet to consistently come up with the big plays the team knows it is capable of.
“I would say the biggest thing is getting more turnovers,” said linebacker Kyler Fackrell. “Getting more turnover attempts and trying to strip the ball. That's been a goal all year, and I don't think we've met our goal of three turnovers in a game once this year. I think that is a big step we need to take to go from good to great.”
In nine games this season the defense has generated only 15 turnovers, but when facing UTSA last week USU came up with two interceptions in a game for the first time this season.
There likely will not be many opportunities for interceptions this week as Texas State will bring a strong rushing game and option attack to Logan. Although the two schools have never played before, USU head coach Gary Andersen is familiar with the Bobcats' schemes. As a defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Utah, Andersen matched up with former TCU and current Bobcat offensive coordinator Mike Schultz many times.
“Texas State is very good in option football,” Andersen said. “They are very physical up front and their running backs run very hard. It's a very good scheme. It will be a big, big challenge for us defensively to make the plays, get on and off the field and take care of business.”
With so many possibilities in front of them, the Aggies can ill afford a slip-up against the Bobcats before heading into their bye week. A victory against Texas State would likely set up a de-facto conference championship game at Louisiana Tech on Nov. 17 and keep the possibility of a 10-win regular season alive, something that has never been done in Utah State school history.
Aggies on the air
Texas State Bobcats (3-4, 1-1 WAC) at Utah State Aggies (7-2, 3-0)
Merlin Olsen Field at E.L. Romney Stadium (25,513), Logan, Utah.
1 p.m. MT
RADIO: Utah State Sports Network
Kraig is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be reached at email@example.com or followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.