LOGAN – Last Saturday the Utah State football team enjoyed a 35-14 win over the University of Hawai’i, but now the team has a quick turnaround. In just six days they will have gone from playing in the islands to playing at a chilly 7,220 feet above sea-level when they travel to Laramie to take on the University of Wyoming on national television.
Head coach Matt Wells compared the upcoming game to an NFC Central playoff game, with “tough guys, cold weather” and “running the football.”
“It’ll be fun,” he said. “Put the Gore-Tex on and let’s go to work. It’s going to be like Bears vs. Packers. That’s the way I look at it. There’s going to be breath coming out of everybody’s mouth, and it’s going to be a throwback.”
He said he has known this week’s quick turnaround would be a challenge for a while now.
“It is what it is, and it’s an awful short week. It’s an awful quick turnaround, especially with the travel,” Wells said. “Those will never be excuses, they are facts and we’re excited. It puts a smile on our face.”
Wyoming is 4-5 on the year and 2-3 in conference. The Cowboys are fighting to become bowl eligible.
Wells said even though a lot of Wyoming’s recent games haven’t been wins, he said they have really found their offensive identity. Part of that can be attributed to freshman running back Brian Hill, who had 281 yards last week at Fresno State. Hill recently became the starter after running back Shaun Wick was injured in a loss to Colorado State. USU defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said Hill makes people pay if he is let in the open field.
“He’s very explosive and can finish plays,” Orlando said. “That’s the unique part about him is he can hit the home run. We have got good backs in this league, and we have a couple of them ourselves, but to have somebody that can take it the distance and really make you pay when you mess something up is pretty unique.”
Stopping Hill may be a little easier if Nick Vigil is back. The sophomore linebacker sat out the game at Hawai’i with an injury. Coach Wells said he is day-to-day and will be a game-time decision.
Friday’s game will be the second start for Aggie quarterback Kent Myers. Myers had 186 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start last week against Hawai’i. The Aggie offense was able to take pressure off the freshman quarterback with its best running game of the season. The Aggies ran for 235 yards, including a career-high 150 for freshman LaJuan Hunt. Offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven said he wants to run the ball this week like he did last week in order to help out Myers.
“Each week will be a new challenge for Kent,” McGiven said. “Now he has got to learn a new defense. He has to try to figure out what we’re doing to try to attack them. There are a couple of different concepts that he’ll have to grasp. We’ll try to carry over as much as we can for him to be able to be successful.”
Utah State is hoping to keep their November streak alive. The Aggies haven’t lost a November game since 2011.
“We’ve been pretty good around here since I’ve been here in the last three years in the month of November,” Wells said. “We have to have another November like that to be able to put ourselves in a position to compete, just to have a chance to compete for the big trophy. I’m proud of our guys for that.”