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Utah State running back Darwin Thompson heads for the end zone last Saturday night against Air Force at Maverik Stadium in Logan, Utah. (Wade Denniston, Utah State Athletics)
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Utah State Excited To Face BYU On Friday

Utah State running back Darwin Thompson heads for the end zone last Saturday night against Air Force at Maverik Stadium in Logan, Utah. (Wade Denniston, Utah State Athletics)

LOGAN, Utah – Coming off a bye week, the Utah State Aggies are rested and ready to take on BYU. In his Monday press conference, Aggie head coach Matt Wells shared the excitement that he and his team are feeling going into Monday’s game.

A More Competitive Rivalry

“It’s BYU week and it’s always an exciting game and a week for us,” said Wells. “It’s a rivalry week for us. It’s something that I know our guys will be excited to play in.”

Having bested the Cougars 40-24 last season, Wells stated that as of late, the Utah State-BYU game has become competitive, thanks in large part to the fact that the Aggies have been more successful.

As far as whether the game can tip the scale for an in-state recruiting battle, he’s unsure if it helps but he knows it may be used in a pitch to a prospective player.

“It is what it is and the team that wins probably uses that in recruiting, I’m sure,” said Wells. “I don’t think it will sign you a kid. I don’t think a kid is going to commit just because one team wins. Recruiting is still about fit, atmosphere and what kind of atmosphere they want to be in, the scheme, the opportunity to play and a lot more factors than the end result on Friday night.”

Mutual Respect

In his press conference down the road in Provo, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake stated his respect for the Aggie coaching staff, a group that he knows well from “being in the business”. Out of Logan, the feeling is mutual for the BYU staff.

“As I look at BYU, I have a lot of respect for Kalani Sitake and the rest of that staff,” said Wells. “I’ve known a lot of those guys for a long time and have had relationships with those guys. They’re a very physical team on both sides of the ball.”

That said, the Aggies know this is a big game and they expect a challenge from the Cougars, who were defeated 35-7 by Washington last week.

“It’s a big game. We’re fighting for respect and pride. This game’s going to be a fun game. We just have to be mentally ready and physically ready,” said senior linebacker Suli Tamivena.

Former Cougar Now An Aggie

One Utah State player in particular is especially excited about the game because he’ll be lining up against some of his former teammates. Senior offensive lineman Roman Andrus played at BYU from 2012-15. But despite the interesting connection to the Cougars, he’s looking at the game like any other.

“It’s a cool experience because I know a lot of those guys still and I still talk to them,” said Andrus “It’ll be a good competition. Obviously, there is a lot of history between the two teams. I look at it as another game. Every game is important. You just have to approach it with the same mentality and prepare the way you would for any game.”

Staying Focused

But for the players in the Utah State locker room who are keyed up for the rivalry game, Wells says the key is maintain focus up until a day before the contest.

“When you talk about that, it’s not even part of the equation until the last 24 hours,” said Wells “You don’t have to be at your emotional peak until 7:05 p.m. on Friday. Today is Monday, so it’s about preparation, practicing really hard and trying to win the game today, in terms of preparation, and how much extra video you’re studying.”

The game will kick off Friday at 7 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

 

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