Utah State Needs Defense To Provide More Big Plays Against Weber State

Sep 10, 2022, 3:09 PM

Blake Anderson - Utah State Aggies...

Utah State head coach Blake Anderson. (Photo courtesy of USU Athletics)

(Photo courtesy of USU Athletics)

LOGAN, UT – After a blowout loss to No. 1 Alabama last weekend, it’s time for Utah State’s defense to create big plays against the Weber State Wildcats.

The Aggies (1-1) host Weber State (1-0) at Maverik Stadium in Logan, UT on Saturday, September 10. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. (MST).

Through two games, Utah State has played teams from both ends of the 2021 talent spectrum.

A UConn team coming off of a 1-11 season pushed the Aggies but ultimately wilted against a tough USU rushing attack.

Following the win against UConn, the Aggies were throttled 55-0 by the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in a game that showed just how big the talent discrepancy is between Utah State and an SEC program.

With those games to go off of, it’s difficult for Aggies fans to get a true gauge on what to expect from their team in 2022.

As the FCS No. 16 Weber State Wildcats come into Maverik Stadium, what areas can Utah State improve in the most?

Get To The Quarterback

There have been several positives from Utah State’s defense in the early season but they have been far from perfect.

The Aggies hold a 4-to-2 advantage in the turnover department, having created two interceptions and a fumble against UConn and and interception at Alabama. Ike Larsen has been the standout performer in the Aggie secondary with a pair of INT’s and a blocked punt against the Crimson Tide.

The secondary and linebacker groups were productive against UConn and performed as well as can be expected against Alabama, but what haven’t they done this season?

Utah State has just one quarterback sack through two games. Junior defensive end Daniel Grzesiak brought down Bryce Young last Saturday.

With one sack, Utah State is tied with San Diego State and Colorado State for the second fewest in the Mountain West. Boise State leads the conference with six QB sacks.

The Aggies need to create push at the point of attack with the defensive line and be willing to use the blitz selectively to create quarterback pressure.

Slowing The Run Game

UConn’s Nate Carter gave the Aggie defense fits in week zero as he ran for a career-high in the first half alone, finishing with 190 yards rushing. Carter led a Husky rushing attack that finished with 245 yards on the ground and a 6.2 yards per rush average on 39 carries.

Against Alabama, it was sophomore quarterback Bryce young that picked the Aggie defense apart, escaping the pocket to finish with 100 yards on five carries and a score. The Crimson Tide finished with 278 rushing yards, gaining 8.68 yards per carry.

After allowing opponents to gain 161.8 rushing yards per game in 2021, they are allowing 261.5 yards per game this season.

The Aggies haven’t gotten much production out of the defensive line as eight players appear on the Aggie tackle leaderboard before defensive lienman Byron Vaughns and Grzesiak show up with 11 tackles between them.

Utah State will be tasked with slowing down Wildcat running backs Josh Davis and Damon Bankston. Davis led the WSU attack with 56 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in their opener while Bankston added a touchdown with his 10 carries.

Series History

This will be the 16th matchup between the two programs separated by about 60 minutes of driving. Utah State has controlled the series, winning 14 of the first 15 games played between the two. USU is 9-1 against the Wildcats at home and have won the last eight games of the series dating back to 1978. The Wildcats only win against USU came in 1978 in a 44-25 victory in Logan.

Aggie Captains

Utah State named five captains ahead of their game against Weber State. Junior wide receiver Kyle Van Leeuwen; graduate senior offensive lineman Alfred Edwards; redshirt-freshman cornerback Ike Larsen; senior cornerback Michael Anyanwu; and junior linebacker MJ Tafisi.

Watch & Listen

Where: Maverik Stadium in Logan, Utah

When: Saturday, September 10 at 5 p.m. (MDT)

TV/Stream: Mountain West Network

Radio: KSL Sports Zone 1280 AM

Every Utah State football game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

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Utah State Needs Defense To Provide More Big Plays Against Weber State