Despite Utah State's hot first half of the season, head coach Matt Wells sees things only getting more difficult as the Aggies prepare to travel to Laramie to face Wyoming on Saturday.
"We have to intensify our efforts a little bit this week. We have to bring more intensity to the focus, not longer, not harder, but just intensify it a little bit and be a lot more urgent in our preparation. Each step is a little bit tougher, harder and means a little bit more," Wells said during his weekly press conference.
Despite being picked to finish fourth in the Mountain Division, Utah State has been almost unstoppable through its first six games. The Aggies average an astounding 51.7 points per game, second only to Alabama in the FBS. Utah State's average margin of victory in five wins is 34.8 points.
The Aggies have the potential to have a special season the way they are playing. They sit all alone on top of the Mountain Division at 2-0 in conference play. Even mighty Boise State already has a conference loss as it fell to San Diego State at home. A double-digit win season, a top-25 finish and even their first conference title since joining the Mountain West are all within the Aggies' reach.
But Wells and his coaching staff know that if they don't keep up their winning ways in Laramie this week that all of those wonderful possibilities could slip away. Besides, Wells remembers all too well the last time Utah State traveled to Wyoming.
"It’s round three for us in the Mountain West and it’s an opponent that last time we went to Laramie, we got beat. We didn’t get beat, we actually got boat-raced. I remember that and we got our tails handed to us. It’s a tough place to win. It’s a program that has my respect. Craig Bohl has come in there and completely flipped that program and their mindset. They’re a bunch of tough guys. They’re blue-collar, physical and I know what we’re getting into," Wells said.
Laramie is always a tough place to play even when the Cowboys are down.
"They have tremendous support there. Those fans show up and it doesn’t matter what the weather is or what their record is. They’re very faithful, loyal and loud. You always have weather issues. There’s wind, weather and you add all of that together and the product on the field is very tough and well-coached," Wells said.
Wyoming certainly has had its struggles this season as it sits at 2-5 and 0-3 in the Mountain West. But Utah State defensive coordinator Keith Patterson sees plenty of potential from the Cowboys.
"They have two guys at tackle that look like the Wasatch Mountains. Good grief. They are 6-7 and 300-and-whatever pounds. They have running backs that run hard. They have a big quarterback who has a strong arm. They have receivers," said Patterson. "That’s a fair assessment, but they just haven’t been able to convert. But on the same hand, they try to win their games and build it around the defense and play great defense and manage the game offensively. Most of the time, they’re in at the end of games and give themselves a chance to win."
Likewise, offensive coordinator David Yost isn't taking the Cowboys' defense lightly.
"It’ll be a tremendous challenge. They do a great job defensively with what they do," Yost said. "Their guys are well-coached and well-schooled within their system in what they do. They fit the run game as well as anybody we’ve played as far as they use the D-line and line stunts to get into certain gaps so they have every gap covered, and that’s why they’re extremely sound in that way. Coverage-wise, they don’t let a lot of balls over their heads."
It's clear that Utah State expects a tough game at Wyoming no matter what the Cowboys' record is.
Time will tell if the Aggies can keep the ball rolling on its special season.