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Aggies' passing game AWOL in loss to Utes

No, it's not a mistake. Utah State rushed for 163 yards and passed for just 95 in Saturday's 31-7 loss to Utah.

Generally, it's the rushing game that takes all the shots to the belly when it comes to Utah State's offense and/or lack of it.

Saturday night, however, it the was the passing game that struggled.

Leon Jackson III's 95 yards are the fewest via the air since 1994 when the Aggies threw for 93 against Louisiana Tech.

The Aggies threw for more than 100 yards in every game last year, while averaging 214.1 per game. Quarterback Travis Cox threw for a season-low 126 in a loss to Middle Tennessee.

In his first career start, Jackson completed 12 of 25 passes with a touchdown and one interception. By halftime, Jackson had completed 7 of 10 for 71 yards, connecting on only 5 of 15 in the second half.

After the first quarter, when the Aggies gained 101 yards, Utah State managed just 147 the rest of the way, 100 of which came on the ground.

"We need to get our passing game established as well," said Utah State freshman running back Ryan Bohm, who rushed for 56 yards and had four catches for 41 yards.

"We ran the ball well, but once we got behind we had to start throwing the ball and it wasn't happening. We have to work on that."

By the end of the first quarter, the Aggies had rushed for more yards (63) than they had in six of 11 games last year.

Before the last game last year — a 34-25 win over New Mexico State in which the Aggies ran for a season-high 201 yards, their previous season-high was 115 yards accomplished twice.

The Utah State running game ranked 115th in the nation last year at 76.3 yards per game and the passing game ranked 58th at 214.1 yards per game.

LEADING THE WAC: With his 87 yards rushing, Jackson is leading the WAC in rushing and ranks fourth nationally among quarterbacks, and is 43rd in the nation among all rushers.

MAKING THE STOPS: Safety Terrance Washington and linebacker Matt Wiser had 11 tackles each for the Aggies. The defense, however, surrendered 510 yards to the Utes, the most since allowing 550 to UNLV last year. Ironically, the Aggies won that game, 31-21.

NO PENNYMAN: Utah State wide receiver Tony Pennyman was suspended for the Utah game for violating team rules, Utah State football coach Brent Guy said.

He is expected to play Sept. 24 against UNLV.

Pennyman, a junior, was second on the team in catches, yards and touchdowns behind Kevin Robinson.

SPEAKING OF ROBINSON: Robinson improved his streak to seven games with at least two catches with two receptions for eight yards against the Utes.

He had six returns (2 punts, 4 kickoffs) for 100 yards with a long of 45.

Robinson, who was named to the all-Sun Belt first team, was a freshman all-American kick returner.

WALK-ONS WELCOME: Utah State's football team will hold walk-on tryouts on Monday, Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m. in Romney Stadium.

To be eligible for the tryouts, students must be full-time students. It is preferred that students have gone through the NCAA Clearing House while in high school.

Any interested students must contact assistant coach Greg Stevens in advance at 435-797-1857. Walkups will not be allowed to participate.

AGGIE LUNCHEONS: Utah State's weekly Big Blue Club football luncheon will be held at the Coppermill Restaurant in Logan today at noon. The luncheon is not limited to Big Blue Club members and is open to everybody.

The weekly meetings begin at noon and feature head coach Brent Guy and two players. The coach will also show video of the Utah game. Cost of the luncheon is $12.

NEAR-RECORD CROWD: The crowd 45,639 Saturday was less than 1,000 people shy of equaling the highest total to see a Utah State-Utah football game. The game ranked in the top 15 all-time.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com