Aggie Football Report Card- Week 1 at UtahA college football team’s biggest improvement often comes between the first and second games of the season. For the Utah State football team this period spans two weeks as they prepare to face the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station on Saturday, Sept 19. The week off gives us an opportunity to revisit the good and the bad from last week’s 35-17 loss to the now 17th ranked Utah Utes. Following are position grades from the first game of the season.QuarterbackThe Utah State passing game showed early signs of success. Junior Diondre Borel connected with Stanley Morrison across the middle on the opening drive. The play resulted in 48 yards and landed the Aggies at the Utah 18 yard line. USU capped off the drive by taking a 3-0 lead. This was the only completion for Utah State in the first quarter and USU finished the game by completing just 10 out of 26 passes for 121 yards. The passing game struggled but Borel was the second leading rusher scampering for 48 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown.The Aggie signalcaller was under pressure from the Utah defense all night long. This caused a number of passes to be deflected at the line of scrimmage and many passes to open receivers ended up off target. Another important aspect of quarterbacking is managing the game. Utah State finished 0 for 12 on third down conversions and 1 for 2 on fourth down.Grade:CWhat to watch for at Texas A&M:Look for USU to roll Borel out of the pocket in order to give him more time to throw. We should see his accuracy improve with more time. Look for the completion percentage to raise from 38 percent to the 50 percent range.Running BacksThe running back position at Utah State may be the deepest position on the team. Before the game Coach Andersen said that as many as six running backs could see action. Late in the first quarter USU had their backs against their own goal line. On first down, after two offensive penalties, Borel handed the ball to Robert Turbin. What happened after Turbin got the ball turned out to be the most explosive play of the game for the Aggie offense. He blasted through the middle of the line and into the Ute secondary before any defender could get a hand on him. He broke towards the west sideline and outran a speedy Utah defense for a school record 96 yard touchdown run. Turbin finished the game with 148 yards on only 13 attempts. An average of 11.4 yards per carry. Michael Smith, Marquis Butler, and Derrvin Speight also contributed to USU’s 221 yards rushing.Grade:AWhat to watch for at Texas A&M:This should be simple. Get Turbin more touches. He may not pump out 148 yards again but Turbin should have the ball in his hands between 20 and 25 times instead of 13.Wide ReceiversStanley Morrison showed flashes of the game-breaking ability that Utah State desperately needs from the receiver position. Utah State receivers accounted for 79 yards on 6 receptions. With over half of those yards coming on Morrison’s opening drive catch. Omar Sawyer caught two short passes and Eric Moats hauled in one for 11 yards.Grade:D+What to watch for at Texas A&M:The job doesn’t get any easier for USU’s passing game. They will be facing a Big 12 caliber defensive backfield in College Station that has the same type of speed that Utah’s had. Aggie receivers need to do a better job of getting open and make an effort for every pass that’s thrown. Otherwise A&M defensive backs will beat them to alot of passes. Watch for USU to involve the running backs in the passing game more than they did against the Utes.Tight EndsKellen Bartlett made two catches for 18 yards. He gained most of those yards while carrying three Ute defenders for a first down in the third quarter.Grade:C-What to watch for at Texas A&M:The Aggie tight ends should see more balls thrown their way as the season progresses. Also watch for the possibility of them playing a bigger role in pass protection while the running backs are used more for receiving purposes.Offensive LineUtah State’s offensive line is physically stronger than last year. But facing a defensive front as athletic and talented as Utah’s was a tall order for this group. The Ute defensive line batted down 5 passes at the line of scrimmage, sacked Diondre Borel twice, and pressured the Aggie passing attack all night long. The interior of the offensive line did do a pretty good job of keeping Utah’s defensive tackles from stuffing the running game.Grade:D+What to watch for at Texas A&M:Coach Andersen was not pleased with the O-line. This is the unit that needs to improve the most during the bye week. Until the USU offensive line gets solidified the coaching staff will be limited in opening up the playbook. The spread offense requires strong offensive line play otherwise running backs and tight ends that could be used to spread the field will need to be used for pass protection.Defensive LineUtah ran the ball 50 times on the Aggies. Thirteen of those runs were stopped for 2 yards or less. The USU defensive line put up a good fight against a very good Utah offensive line. But the Utes still finished with 223 yards rushing. Junior Keiaho and Sean Enesi each tallied a tackle for loss. Keiaho led all defensive lineman with 8 total tackles. No Aggie lineman managed to reach Utah QB Terrance Cain for a sack. The defensive line showed great promise late in the second quarter when they kept the Utes from taking a commanding lead by stopping them on four plays inside the five yard line. The goal line stand kept Utah from extending an 11 point lead to 18.Grade:C+What to watch for at Texas A&M:The USU run defense will be shifting focus from stopping a bulldozing running back like Matt Asiata to trying to contain the speed of Texas A&M’s three featured backs that ran all over New Mexico in week one. Aggie defensive ends will be challenged as they try to keep A&M running backs moving east and west instead of north and south.LinebackersBobby Wagner was the star linebacker versus Utah. He recorded 12 tackles, one of them for a loss, and recovered a fumble. He also played a key role in Utah State’s goal line stand in the second quarter. Paul Igboeli sacked Cain in the second half for the Aggies’ only sack of the game. Much of USU’s blitzing game was neutralized by Utah’s quick passes and screen passes.Grade:CWhat to watch for at Texas A&M:The Texas Aggies have world class athletes at the skill positions and the Aggie linebackers will be tested with lots of mismatches. How they manage to handle it will go a long ways in determining how the Utags will fare in College Station.Defensive BacksJames Brindley was all over the field in Salt Lake City. He picked off a pass late in the second quarter that led to the Aggies’ final touchdown of the game. He recorded 14 tackles and met Matt Asiata head on on a number of occasions. Aggie cornerbacks got burned early on as the Utes countered USU’s aggressive blitzing with short slant routes for big gains. In the second half USU coaches adjusted and the Utes only managed seven points.Grade:B-What to watch for at Texas A&M:The secondary will have to limit big plays. They need to make the offense earn their points and take time off the clock in doing so. Look for a lot of 2 Man Under defense to be employed by the Aggies. This defense allows the corners to play man defense. The two safeties will be playing zone over the top to help the corners in case they get beat. The Utah game had some positives for USU. It showed signs of progress. But the Aggies have a long ways to go before reaching the goals and expectations that Coach Gary Andersen has set for this team.
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