Utah State Must Find A Way To Be More Physical Early In Games

Oct 2, 2023, 12:01 PM | Updated: 1:47 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – A win is a win but the Utah State Aggies know they have to play better early as they dive headlong in Mountain West play this week.

Utah State head coach Blake Anderson joined DJ & PK on the KSL Sports Zone to talk about the Aggies win over UConn on Monday, October 2.

“It was as ugly as it could be early,” Anderson said of his team’s first-quarter difficulties. “Proud of the guys for not panicking. We dug our way back in and found a way to win it, but we’re not making it easy by any means.”

RELATED: Utah State Exemplifies Next Man Up Mentality In Win Over UConn

“We’re getting our butts kicked up front early. Not matching up real well early and getting tossed around. It shows and it creates a lot of problems.”

This isn’t the first time slow starts have been an issue under Anderson. In 2021, Utah State trailed in seven of their 11 wins.

Through 13 comeback wins in Anderson’s three seasons, eight have come from a double-digit deficit. USU is 9-1 in one-score games under Blake Anderson.

This season alone, the Aggies have trailed by double-digits in the first half in four of five games.

RELATED: Blocked Extra Point Allows Utah State To Survive After Second-Half Comeback

Anderson did caution that these deficits have helped build a no-quit mentality within the locker room.

“We have obviously built a culture where our guys know that we will last for 60 minutes. Don’t freak out because things didn’t go well early… We’ll just keep it close and we’ll have an opportunity to make some adjustments and keep rolling.”

RELATED: Utah State Safety Ike Larsen Earns Mountain West Recognition

Utah State Wideouts Come Up Big

UConn held leading Aggie receiver Terrell Vaughn without a catch for the first time in his two seasons in Logan. With Vaughn under wraps, Jalen Royals, Colby Bowman, and the rest of the wide receiver room stepped up when they were needed most.

With the Huskies dedicating bodies and coverage concepts to keep Vaughn under wraps, Anderson was confident other players could get the job done.

RELATED: Cooper Legas Finds Jalen Royals For Third Touchdown Pass Of Second Half

“We’ve always felt like balance was more about spreading the ball around. Taking one-on-ones and pushing the ball down the field where it needs to go.”

Cooper Legas, playing in place of McCae Hillstead after the latter suffered a second-quarter concussion, took advantage of what was available. Legas and Bowman connected for a 63-yard scoring strike near the end of the first half which gave the Aggies momentum.

In the second half, Legas hooked up with Royals for three long touchdowns as the Aggies scored 24 unanswered points between the second and third quarters. Royals would tie his career-high with seven catches and career-bests of 185 yards and three touchdowns.

RELATED: Jalen Royals Takes Screen Pass 71-Yards For Utah State Touchdown

“Jalen is just a problem,” Anderson said of the junior. “He’s too quick. He can run over the top of anybody. He’s playing very confidently.”

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State (2-3, 0-1) welcomes Mountain West conference foe Colorado State (2-2) to Maverik Stadium on Saturday, October 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT). USU is 37-39-2 all-time against the Rams but has won the last four matchups. The Aggies are 7-3 in the last ten games and look to move above .500 at home as they enter with a 20-20-1 record on Merlin Olsen Field.

USU football games are found on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White (1988-89) on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Utah State Must Find A Way To Be More Physical Early In Games