Utah State looking for first win streak of season as it hosts Colorado State in homecoming game – Cache Valley Daily

USU flags in Maverik Stadium. Photo by Clint Allen

LOGAN — Following a dramatic win over UConn last week, Utah State returns home for its homecoming game where it’ll host Colorado State. Last week the Aggies got their first win against an FBS opponent and this week they’ll aim for their first win against a Mountain West opponent.

Game Details

Kickoff (Friday): 6 p.m. Mountain Time

Location: Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium (Logan, UT)

KVNU Aggie GameDay with Al Lewis: 4:10 – 5:45 p.m.

KVNU Aggie Call with Al Lewis: Immediately after Coach Anderson’s post-game comments

TV Broadcast: KJZZ14

Radio Broadcast: KVNU (102.1 FM, 610 AM) in Logan; KVNU (98.3) in Tremonton; KVNU (93.5) in Garden City; KZNS (97.5 FM, 1280 AM) in Salt Lake City; KRPX (102.7 FM) in Green River, Utah; KRPX (100.3 FM) in Moab; KRPX (95.9 FM) in Orangeville; KRPX (95.3 FM) in Price; KVSI (1450 AM/104.5 FM) in Montpelier, Idaho.

Injury Report

  • (QB) McCae Hillstead – OUT

  • (WR) Otto Tia – Questionable

  • (TE) Josh Sterzer – OUT

  • (OL) Cole Motes – OUT

  • (OL) Falepula Alo – Questionable

  • (OL) Tavo Motu’apuaka – Questionable

  • (OL) Ralph Frias – Probable

  • (OL) Wade Meacham – Probable

  • (DT) Poukesi Vakauta – Questionable

  • (LB) Bronson Olevao – Questionable

  • Players Out For Season – (S) Omari Okeke, (LB) Max Alford, (WR) Kyle Van Leeuwen

While McCae Hillstead has been said to be “day-to-day” by head coach Blake Anderson, a concussion that knocks you straight out of a game is not something players come back from within a single week and Anderson’s own declaration that he wouldn’t put the freshman in harm’s way almost assures he will not play until at least next week’s matchup with Fresno State, and perhaps not even then.

Utah State’s offensive line has been decimated by injuries with four of its regular starters not starting last week at UConn and several of them are likely to miss this week as well. Josh Sterzer remains out as his injury lingers and Otto Tia is questionable after missing last week’s game, the second game he’s missed this season. The defensive line will likely be without Poukesi Vakuata again and the linebacking corps without Bronson Olevao as both have missed multiple weeks in a row and aren’t likely to make their return this week.

Statistical Rank Comparison

Utah State

  • Scoring Offense – 21st (37.0)

  • Total Offense – 44th (427.6)

  • Passing Offense – 35th (277.8)

  • Rushing Offense – 71st (149.8)

  • Scoring Defense – 115th (33.8)

  • Total Defense – 112nd (424.2)

  • Passing Defense – 90th (244.4)

  • Rushing Defense – 110th (179.8)

  • Turnovers Lost – 79th (8)

  • Turnovers Gained – 24th (9)

Colorado State

  • Scoring Offense – 47th (32.85)
  • Total Offense – 32nd (452.5)
  • Passing Offense – 3rd (383.5)

  • Rushing Offense – 128th (69.0)

  • Scoring Defense – 116th (34.0)

  • Total Defense – 119th (438.2)

  • Passing Defense – 129th (319.5)

  • Rushing Defense – 45th (118.8)

  • Turnovers Lost – 112th (10)

  • Turnovers Gained – 54th (7)

Utah State turning to Cooper Legas

Though he faced a degree of humiliation in being benched earlier this year, senior quarterback Cooper Legas is very likely to be back in the spotlight this week with Hillstead very likely to sit out with a concussion. Legas stepped in perfectly to finish off a 17-point rally begun by Hillstead against UConn last week. He completed 11 of 13 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers brought his season totals to 588 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Legas has also completed 70.2 percent of his passes

CSU one-dimensional on offense, but not a problem

Colorado State currently rank 128th in FBS in rushing yards per game, averaging a mere 69.0 yards per contest with a season-high of 104 against Utah Tech last week. The Rams also rank 125th in yards per rush. Those troubles could get even worse if running backs Avery Morrow and Kobe Johnson miss more time. They both missed CSU’s game against Utah Tech and Morrow is expected to be out several weeks. Johnson is more likely to return as his injury is reportedly less serious.

Contrasting this terrible rushing game is an elite passing offense. Colorado State ranks third in the nation in passing yards per game. And it’s that passing offense that’s allowed the Rams to be an effective offense, averaging 32.8 points per game (47th in FBS) and never scoring fewer than 24 in four games this season and at least 30 in three games.

Tory Horton a dangerous weapon for Rams

Key to Colorado State’s great passing game is the fact it can boast having one of the best receivers in the country in senior Tory Horton. He ranks first in the country in receiving yards per game at 135.0 and is seventh in total receiving touchdowns despite the Rams having played only four games this year while most teams have played five to this point. He also serves as CSU’s primary punt returner and ranks 34th in FBS in yards per return. He’s caught at least 10 passes in his last three games including a career-high 16 against Colorado.

Rams’ dominant defensive lineman

Wide receiver isn’t the only position where the Rams have stars. Their defensive line has multiple great players, perhaps none greater than Mohamed Kamara. The former second-team All-Mountain West and 2023 Preseason All-Mountain West edge rusher had 8.5 sacks and 16.0 TFLs last season and is already well on his way to exceeding those totals. Kamara has recorded at least one sack in every game he’s played in, including two in a pair of games (Middle Tennessee State and Colorado). He’s also forced two fumbles, tying a single-season career high already, and recovered one of those in a five-yard scoop-and-score against Middle Tennessee State.

Will this be the week USU plays well in the first quarter?

It’s the never-ending question for the Aggies: Why can’t they play well in the first quarter. They’ve been outscored by 60 points in the opening frame and have been shut out by all FBS opponents in the quarter. It’s a strange phenomenon, on that is hard to fully explain, at least comfortably. Anderson has admitted he doesn’t have the answer, but he’ll have to come up with one of Utah State is going to have anything resembling success this season.

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