<strong>LOGAN—</strong> For the third time in as many weeks, the USU football team heads into its Saturday game as a heavy favorite. Following blowouts of New Mexico State and UTSA, the Aggies welcome Texas State to Romney Stadium.
“I just feel like all cylinders are sparking right now. From the O-line, Chuckie (Keeton) back there, running backs, all receivers … we’re just spreading the ball, we have tons of different personnel,” said senior receiver Cam Webb. “We’re catching people off balance, we have Kerwynn (Williams) and Joe (Hill) back there – both speedy running backs – I just feel like we’re all in sync right now.”
Despite USU being heavy favorites, head coach Gary Andersen is doing his best to make sure his team doesn’t overlook the Bobcats.
“This will be a big challenge for us, I’m telling you this is a good football team we’re playing,” Andersen said. “Texas State is very good in option football, they’re very physical up front. Running backs run very hard, it’s a very good scheme.”
Similar to USU’s opponent a week ago, Texas State is playing in its first year in the WAC and its first year as an FBS program. The Bobcats are also similar to the Roadrunners in that they play a lot of option football – even more than UTSA.
“I like playing option teams, it kind of simplifies things,” freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell said. “It’s more complicated in that you have to know your assignment, but it’s easier I think to play against an option team because they’re kind of more one-dimensional.”
Leading the Bobcats is quarterback Shaun Rutherford who has passed for 1,149 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. Rutherford is also second on the team in rushing with 288 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
The rushing leader for Texas State is running back Marcus Curry who has tallied 333 yards and six rushing scores on the season. Through the air, Andy Erickson is the clear leader with 28 receptions on the season for 385 yards and three touchdowns.
Possibly the most dangerous unit for the Bobcats though, is their return game on special teams. Erickson leads the WAC with an 18.6 yard return average on punt returns. Texas State is equally dangerous on kickoff returns as Jafus Gaines also leads the WAC as he averages more than 30 yards a return.
“They’ve got talent, they’ve got athleticism, and they’ll do a nice job. We’ve got to kick the ball well, we’ve got to cover well, and we’ve got to take advantage of opportunities in when it presents itself. That will be a big part of this game,” Andersen said.
Defensively, Andersen says the Bobcats are unpredictable and will try to put the Aggies in what he calls “unconventional” downs.
“They’re unpredictable, which I think every good defense is unpredictable. That will be a challenge for us, because the last couple of weeks we haven’t had as much of that situation for us,” Andersen said.
On the season, the Bobcats are allowing opponents to gain more than 460 yards of offense, including nearly 200 yards on the ground. That doesn’t bode well for Texas State facing an Aggie team that is averaging 507 yards of offense and 46 points during its past three games.
“Last year, we ran that rock, I mean we ran it con-stant-ly,” Webb said. “Being a receiver, blocking every single play wasn’t the funnest, but now we’re starting to spread the ball a little bit, equaling out the run and pass, so it’s a lot funner.”
Defensively, the Aggies are hoping to win the turnover battle and reach their goal of three turnovers in a game for the first time this season.
“The biggest thing is getting more turnovers, getting more turnover attempts, try to strip the ball,” Fackrell said. “That’s been a goal all year, and I don’t think we’ve met our goal of three turnovers in a game once this year. I think that’s a big step we need to take to go from good to great.”
Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Romney Stadium. The Bobcats are 3-4 (1-1) on the season, while Utah State is 7-2 (3-0). The Aggies are on an eight game conference win streak, dating back to last season and have won 12 of their past 15 games with those three losses coming by a combined six points.
“Everyone is definitely excited, but still hungry of course. We want to finish out strong, we’ve still got three games left, conference games,” Webb said. “It’s our goal to go 6-0 in the WAC and win the WAC Championship, and I feel the team has got that as a goal set and we’re going to keep working hard week-in and week-out to get that goal.”
Saturday’s game can be heard live on KVNU (610 AM) and VFX (95.9 FM), and can also be streamed live via 610kvnu.com. The game will also be televised locally on KMYU.