Utah State Leadership Finding Their Voice At Season’s Midpoint
Oct 14, 2022, 7:12 PM
LOGAN, Utah – The Utah State football team has unexpectedly found themselves filling leadership roles after getting off to a disastrous start in 2022.
Heading into the season, graduate senior quarterback Logan Bonner was expected to fill a large portion of the leadership void after the Aggies lost 25 letterman, including 11 starters from their Mountain West champion 2021 team.
“We had a lot of great leaders last year that we’ve lost. Such as DT (Deven Thompkins), Nick Heninger on the defensive side,” Hale Motu’apuaka said about the Aggies offseason losses. “Losing great leaders like that, it happens every year with programs but it’s our job as the next people up to fill those roles.”
When Bonner struggled and the Aggies got off to a slow start, it caused concerns in Logan.
More concerning however were the unforced errors. Mental mistakes that led to an Aggie team that had committed the fourth most penalties in college football prior to defeating Air Force on October 8. Add to that a worst in college football 15 turnovers USU had committed ahead of last weekend.
Utah State righted those mistakes against the Falcons. The Aggie offense didn’t turn the ball over for just the second time this season (Alabama). Eight penalties is far from perfect but 65 penalty yards is an improvement over the nearly 87 penalty yards per game USU had averaged.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) October 9, 2022
With Bonner now out for the season and Utah State’s back against the wall in regards to their goals of repeating as Mountain West conference champions, the Aggies know they can’t wait for leaders to show themselves.
Different Ways To Lead
Motu’apuaka previously acknowledged a change in his own leadership style this season.
“Personally, I felt like it was okay for me just, like you said, keep your head down and work by example. But I feel like that doesn’t work as much,” the senior defensive tackle commented. “I’ve kind of broken out of my shell a little bit more. Gotten out of my comfort zone and tried to be more of a vocal leader. Helping out the young guys and keeping people accountable as well as telling people to make sure they keep me accountable. It helps my teammates, but it also helps myself.”
On the offensive side of the ball, head coach Blake Anderson can’t speak highly enough about the example graduate senior wide receiver Brian Cobbs has been.
“That dude’s been a leader since day one that he got here. He’s been more and more vocal, but mainly leads by example,” Anderson said of the University of Maryland transfer. “He does everything right. He’s the first in, last out. Never on a list. Always encouraging the guys around him. Willing to help on special teams. He’s the epitome of what we’re looking for.”
.@usufootball's Brian Cobbs has 24 catches for 315 yds and three scores in his past three games.
📸: Courtesy of Utah State Athletics pic.twitter.com/CvVuvPr1bP
— Brian Preece (@bpreece24) October 10, 2022
Trust In The Quarterback Room
Bonner’s broken foot could have scuttled Utah State’s season if the team didn’t buy into Cooper Legas.
Despite the relative inexperience of Legas, Bonner was one of his first Aggie teammates to throw support in Cooper’s corner.
Asked about Legas’ play against Air Force, Bonner said, “I certainly wasn’t surprised. He’s a great player and he’s going to be a great play here for for a while. I’m really excited for him.”
— Brian Preece (@bpreece24) October 8, 2022
After Legas finished 18-for-23 with 215 yards and two touchdowns through the air while adding 76 yards on the ground in his first start at home, Anderson praised the way his quarterbacks have worked together.
“The great thing about our team and the great thing about that room is those guys care about each other and pull for each other,” Anderson said of his quarterbacks. “Logan is on headset, always talking. They communicate really, really well. It’s like having another coach on the field.”
Utah State (2-4, 1-1) hopes to keep the good vibes rolling in Fort Collins, Colorado to face the Colorado State Rams (1-4, 1-0). The Rams are coming off of their first win of the season, a 17-14 conference win over Nevada.
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.
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