Photo by Clint Allen
LOGAN—Win or lose, this week’s game will have no bearing on the Aggies’ spot in the Mountain West Conference standings, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot on the line. For the fans, Friday night’s game against #13/#15 BYU is all about in-state bragging rights. For Blake Anderson, it is about getting the attitude and mindset of his team right. Utah State’s head coach is new to the state, but said people around town have made it clear how important the BYU game is, and that it is a game they want him to win.
“I want to beat BYU just as bad as anybody in Cache Valley, but for probably different reasons,” he said. “This just happens to be the next opportunity to show what we are capable of.”
Getting that win in his first meeting with the team from Provo won’t be an easy task. While Utah State is coming off a 27-3 loss to Boise State, BYU is undefeated and ranked No. 13 nationally.
“I think we are playing the best team that we will have seen all year on our schedule,” he said. “Friday night, on a short week.”
No one has been able to take down BYU so far. The team started with three-straight wins over Pac-12 teams before beating South Florida Saturday night, climbing the polls in the process.
BYU 24 vs Arizona 16
Utah 17 at BYU 26
Arizona State 17 at BYU 27
South Florida 27 at BYU 35
Anderson said BYU deserves its ranking and that the team presents “a million problems.”
“Clearly the best built football team we have played,” he said. “It will just ramp it up another notch this week.”
BYU has a fairly balanced offensive attack with 167 yards per game on the ground and 219.5 through the air. At 86.5 yards per game, running back Tyler Allgeier is responsible for a little more than half of those rushing yards, while quarterback Jaren Hall makes up 55.3 per game. Hall is a quarterback that can use his feet to make plays, but because of injuries, his status for Friday night is up in the air, though BYU head coach did say he thinks Hall will be available. If not, it will be Baylor Romney taking the snaps this weekend. Romney’s strength is more in the passing game. Anderson said his team needs to be ready for both.
“It’s two different kinds of looks,” Anderson said. “We’ll have to be prepared for both and won’t know who will be the guy until they tee it up.”
One of the biggest problems USU faces is the size and experience of BYU’s offensive and defensive lines. Anderson called the O-line “one of the best in the country.” To beat a team like that, he said, Utah State is going to have to rely on its own strengths. That will come down to spreading out the field and using a lot of space.
“We’re not going to just overpower them,” he said. “We know that. We’re going to have to use speed and quickness. I think team speed is in our favor. I think quickness is in our favor. Size and power is not. So I think we’ve got to try and make it our kind of game.”
Logan Bonner is QB No. 1
Utah State has used both Andrew Peasley and Logan Bonner at quarterback in each game so far. Bonner has put up much bigger passing numbers, while Peasley has shown ability to use his feet. Both have had success, so going with just one guy hasn’t been easy for Anderson. However, Anderson clarified that Bonner is the starting quarterback on Monday.
“We are going to be one quarterback system,” Anderson said. “They both know that. We are going to use Peasley at times.”
Utah State will be wearing black uniforms this weekend and is encouraging its fans to wear black to the stadium. The game has been sold out, and Anderson is hoping for a loud, energetic atmosphere.
“We need a packed house,” he said. “Electric. Loud. We need to make BYU uncomfortable. This is an opportunity to beat a top-20 team, an in-state opponent, and a rival.”
BYU wide receiver Neil Pau’u and defensive lineman Gabe Summers both said they are expecting boos.
“Utah State definitely is hostile,” Pau’u said. “So, I think we will be more than capable with coming out with the ‘W’ as long as we keep our composure and stuff. I think everything should run smoothly.”
The game will start at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.