Anderson Undecided On Who Starts At Quarterback For Utah State
Oct 30, 2023, 1:31 PM
LOGAN, Utah – Inconsistent play and 13 combined interceptions have left the Utah State Aggies searching for an answer at quarterback as the season enters November.
Utah State (3-5, 1-3) travels to San Diego for a matchup against the San Diego State Aztecs (3-5, 1-3) on Saturday, November 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. (MT).
Utah State head coach Blake Anderson spoke with the media at the Aggies weekly press conference on Monday afternoon.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 30, 2023
“Both guys have had that unforced turnover that we cannot overcome,” Anderson lamented of his two Utah County quarterbacks. “I’ve been really clear with both that neither are playing at the level that they can. I think both can play better.”
Last year’s starter, Cooper Legas broke fall camp as the starter but up and down play led to a change as Anderson looked for a spark. Enter freshman quarterback McCae Hillstead. Hillstead went on to lead a furious comeback against Air Force before throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns the following week in a loss to James Madison. The gaudy numbers didn’t come without mistakes as Hillstead tossed five interceptions before a concussion forced him out of the lineup against UConn.
Back in the starting role, Legas turned the ball over four times in starts against Colorado State and Fresno State. When Hillstead returned last week against San Jose State, he promptly threw two more interceptions, bringing his season total to seven.
That's how you start the second half! 🎯
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 2, 2023
“We turn the ball over too much and both of them have had issues with that. We dissected a lot of things last week and I was hard on them. I’m going to continue to watch them and see how they’re carrying themselves and responding. We’ll make a final decision later in the week.”
Anderson said that both quarterbacks will receive equal reps in practice until a decision is made on who will start.
“Protect the football. Give ourselves a chance to win,” Anderson said simply.
Freshman Quarterback Learning On The Field
When Blake Anderson released the Aggies first depth chart in August, true freshman quarterback McCae Hillstead was listed third, behind starter Cooper Legas and presumed backup Levi Williams. At the time, few would have predicted Hillstead to ascend to the head of the QB room this year.
Instead, early season struggles from Legas led Blake Anderson to bring Hillstead in after Legas started slowly at Air Force. Legas was reinserted as the starter when Hillstead suffered a concussion against UConn.
After missing two games due to the injury, Hillstead returned to start against San Jose State after Anderson determined he gave the team its best opportunity to be successful.
— USU Football (@USUFootball) October 22, 2023
“He did some good things,” Anderson said in the Aggies weekly press conference. “He looked like a freshman at times… I didn’t think he played great by any means. I was proud of how he responded late and allowed us to drive the ball down the field, but it’s the interception early in the game that is glaring. The number one goal is to protect the football and that’s what I need to see.”
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