LOGAN — It would be a huge understatement to say that Utah State is looking forward to its conference opener against Air Force on Saturday night.
"Air Force has got our attention with it being the Mountain West opener. We’re all excited to play them on Saturday night," said coach Matt Wells in his weekly press conference. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for those guys and what they do on both sides of the ball. On special teams, they’re very consistent and dangerous. They’re always blocking punts and they get your attention really quick."
Last season, the Aggies found themselves on the losing end of a close 38-35 game against the Falcons. And just like the New Mexico State game earlier in the season, Utah State is anxious to pay Air Force back.
"We’re extremely hungry, especially after what happened last year," said sophomore quarterback Jordan Love. "But, that was last year and this is this year. We’re hungry. We’re going to game plan for them all week. We’re going to be ready to come out and start that game."
However, there's always the challenge of playing one of the few schools in the FBS that still runs the triple option.
"You don’t see the triple option very often," said Wells. "The focus and the attention to detail, to me, really more than any other week, has to be at an all-time high. I’m going to tell them a million times this week, don’t get bored doing your job because the minute you get bored and you try to do somebody else’s job where you put your eyes somewhere they’re not supposed to be is the minute you have someone in the slot going right past you going for a touchdown."
"Air Force is a different kind of beast," said junior defensive end Fua Leilua. "We haven’t really gone against a team like this yet where they run a triple option or they run 90 percent of the game. That extra day of preparation that we had on Saturday was huge as far as getting in our alignments, knowing our assignments, and getting in the little detail things as far as game plan."
Of course, Wells knows a bit about coaching the triple option as he got his first assistant coaching job at Navy. He has nothing but respect for the cadets as they come to Logan.
"The five years that I had at the Naval Academy and the amount of respect that I have for all three academies for what those kids do on a daily basis and what they do for our country once they graduate, I can’t pay them enough respect," Wells said.
The Falcons are almost certainly eager to get back onto the field after a disappointing 33-27 loss to Florida Atlantic, and they've had a long bye week to get ready for the Aggies.
"We’re about to get a dialed-up version of the Air Force team coming off a bye week. They’ll be very fresh and show us some stuff I’m sure we haven’t seen on tape. It’s the Mountain West opener for them, too. They’ll be all ready to go and this game has come down to the wire three years in a row," Wells said.6 comments on this story
Meanwhile, Utah State enters the game on fire after beating its last two opponents by a combined score of 133-25. The Aggies have scored at least 30 points in their first three games for just the second time in program history, and it has a chance to break the record with a fourth on Saturday. The Aggies are in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense (No. 4), forced turnovers (No. 9), defensive scores, (No. 6) and kickoff returns (No. 7).
However, Wells and the Aggies know how important it is to start conference play with a win.
"I’d like to be 1-0 at home this week and be 1-0 in the Mountain West at midnight Saturday, that’s the goal. We try to build the program and coach our players to be in a position to compete for a championship in November. This game is going to go a long way in saying that," Wells said.