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Injuries taking a toll on USU

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LOGAN — As the injuries keep piling up for the Utah State Aggies, coach Mick Dennehy said pressure's increasing on the second, third and even the fourth team to make themselves even that much more ready to play when called upon.

With Chris Cooley, Richard Watson, Jerome Dennis and Jerome Eason already on the shelf and with the addition of wide receiver Raymond Hicks, who was injured on the first play of the game Saturday against La.-Monroe, the pressure continues falling on the younger group.

Dennehy said their play in the second half of the 28-10 Sun Belt Conference victory over ULM serves as proof.

"Losing Ray Hicks early in the game and playing some guys that probably didn't play as much, that maybe they need to learn our offense a little bit better," Dennehy said. "It kind of hurt us and slowed us up in the second half."

The Aggies had just over 60 yards total offense in the second half and scored just one touchdown, and it came following a turnover that put them on the ULM 2.

"I thought we played a complete game defensively. Offensive we shot ourselves in the foot in the second half," Dennehy said. "Luckily, our defense gave us a short field on the last touchdown to give us a little breathing room."

At the same time, however, Dennehy said he puts those players in between a rock and a hard place because they don't get a lot of time in practice

"Our offense, it's difficult to learn for quarterbacks and wide receivers. It's not a player friendly deal. You need a lot of repetitions," Dennehy said. "The only way they are going to learn is by making some mistakes and they do. It drives you nuts never the less.

"It's a Catch-22 we get all over them because they don't know what's going on, and yet we don't give them enough reps to learn what's going on."

But he's confident with the talent of Jason Thomas, Joel Higginson, Brian Majors and Antonio Pennyman and that they'll learn.

"It's not an excuse, but it kind of is an excuse," he said. "You have to look at it that they're young and they'll grow, but we're still not happy about it."

CONFERENCE KUDOS: Defensive lineman Ronald Tupea, who had three sacks in the win against the Indians, was named the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the week. He recorded six tackles, including the sacks, while recovering a fumble.

Tupea, 6-foot-2, 293 pounds, helped the Aggies hold ULM running back Kevin Payne, the league's top rusher, to just 41 yards.

MINI-STREAK: With their 18-point win over ULM, the Aggies have won three consecutive home games.

MAKING THE GRAB: Senior WR Chris Stallworth had a season-high six receptions in the first half Saturday. His career high is nine catches his freshman season at North Texas.

MARCHING ON: The Aggies' first scoring drive of 89 yards against the Indians was their longest of the season. It was also the third consecutive scoring drive of 80 yards or more.

USU VS. THE MWC: The Aggies are 144-191-13 all-time against teams from the Mountain West Conference. They play New Mexico of the MWC Saturday at 6 p.m. in Albuquerque and host Wyoming, also of the MWC, the following week.

E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com