Utah State Aggies
July 23, 2007
By Jorge Gonzalez
The good news for the Aggies is that that they return 19 starters from last year’s team. The bad news is that they were all part of the squad that went 1-11. In Utah State's defense, the school did face seven teams that went to a bowl game and four of those teams were ranked in the top ten in offense. The schedule is tough again this season with seven games on the road. Head coach Brent Guy needs several players to step up, on both sides of the ball, if they are to improve on their win totals in his third season.
Utah State had a lot of problems on offense last season. The Aggies averaged just 10.8 points per game and were shutout four times last year, and it may not get any better. The quarterback position was shared by Leon Jackson and Riley Nelson. Neither was able to move the ball, and Nelson has left on a two-year mission. Jackson looks like the incumbent, but will be pushed by Arizona State transfer Mike Aflleck and JC transfer Sean Setzer.
The running back position took a blow when leading rusher Marcus Cross left the team for personal reasons. Wide receiver Aaron Lesue will move to the tailback position full time this season. The offensive line loses four starters, but five players return with starting experience. Senior Kevin Robinson returns at wide receiver after leading the team with 36 receptions while returning punts and kickoffs for the special team.
The defense returns 11 starters that allowed 38.5 points a game. Eight players return on the defensive line led by second team All-WAC DE Ben Calderwood. The linebacker unit will be stout. Returning are Jake Hutton, the leading tackler in 2005, who was lost to injury after four games in 2006. Along his side will be Paul Igboeli, the WAC Freshman Player of the Year despite only starting eight games. The whole linebacker unit returns two deep and should help the entire defense improve. This year’s team returns seven of the top-eight defensive backs, but they must improve on the 249 yards they gave up per game.
The third year is supposed to be the year for new coaches to get a team back on the right track. Coach Guy has brought in some quality transfers and should be able to pick up another win or two. Playing three WAC teams that played in bowl games last season, leaves the Aggies a small window of opportunity to improve on last year’s win total.