With football back in action, so is Better Know a Foe! Logan Herald-Journal beat writer Wade Denniston is this week’s victim, as we quizzed him about the rebuilding Utah State Aggies.
It’s been a tough first season for Gary Andersen and Utah State but there’s been flashes of promise — what’s the mindset in Aggieland?
You’re right, it has been a tough season for the Aggies as far as wins and losses. But, they’ve made so much progress and the product on the field is much better. Thanks to Andersen, there is new life in this program. Honestly, the Aggies are 7-10 plays away from possibly being bowl eligible this season. In seven of their eight losses, they were ahead at one time in the game. Three losses have been by four points or less. Compared to year’s past, the future seems bright for the Aggies, which is quite refreshing.
How big would a season-closing win on the road be?
It would be huge. Not only would it give the Aggies a lot of momentum heading into the offseason, but it would also snap a 12-game road losing streak for them.
Robert Turbin — does he not get the national cred he should because of the Aggies’ struggles?
Turbin probably doesn’t get the national cred due to the fact of Boise State. When people think of the WAC, BSU is more than likely the first thing that pops into their mind, and deservedly so. Turbin was recently awarded a helmet sticker by ESPN.com, so his name is definitely out there. And, he had a pretty good showing on national TV against BSU, which was a positive for him and Utah State.
Who are the key playmakers for Utah State on offense and defense?
Junior quarterback Diondre Borel and sophomore running back Robert Turbin make a nice one-two punch for the Aggies on the offensive side of the ball. Borel ranks first in the WAC and 19th in the nation in total offense, while Turbin is third in the WAC and 22nd in the nation in rushing.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Bobby Wagner has proven to be the playmaker on that side of the ball for USU. He’s currently locked in a nice battle with the Vandals’ Shiloh Keo for leading tackler in the WAC.
Utah State’s defense has been a bugaboo all year long. With Enderle coming back, what does USU need to do to slow down the Vandals’ pass attack?
To put it simply, pressure the quarterback. The Aggies have struggled in this department all season and have managed just 14 sacks all year — compared to 30 they’ve allowed.
What should worry Utah State fans about the matchup Idaho presents?
I honestly think these two teams should match up well, but USU has struggled against the run all season long. For the most part, the Aggies have played the pass well, but teams can certainly run on them — they rank 111th in the country in rushing D.
What does each team have to do to win?
Defensively, USU has to stop the run and keep the Vandals’ offense off the field. Offensively, the Aggies just need to execute, make sure Turbin gets his touches and they should be fine. They’ve also got to protect Diondre and give him time to go through his reads so he’s not running around for his life — like he was at times against Boise State last week. And for the Vandals, I would say they just have to take care of the ball and get the run game going with their three-headed monster.