With Mountain West Conference Media Summit in the books and fall camp just around the corner, college football season is practically here. And Utah State fans have plenty to look forward to this coming fall.

It's true that the Aggies were picked fourth in their division at the MW Media Summit, but it is better to be underestimated than overrated. Utah State returns plenty of veterans from last year's bowl-bound squad, and it appears to have the pieces to build up to better things in 2018.

Here are five things to watch for Utah State as camp opens:

1. How does the rush defense look?

Air Force running back Timothy McVey (33) stiff arms Utah State safety Gaje Ferguson (23) as he runs for a touchdown an NCAA college football game at the United States Air Force Academy, Colo., Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Dougal Brownlie/The Gazette via AP)
Air Force running back Timothy McVey (33) stiff arms Utah State safety Gaje Ferguson (23) as he runs for a touchdown an NCAA college football game at the United States Air Force Academy, Colo., Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Dougal Brownlie/The Gazette via AP) | DOUGAL BROWNLIE, The Gazette

If Utah State had one glaring weakness last season, it was its inability to stop the run. The Aggies gave up an average of 216.4 yards per game last season, which is good enough for No. 115 in the FBS. That simply will not do.

Enter new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. Patterson has extensive experience as he's been a defensive coordinator or co-DC at Tulsa, Pitt, West Virginia and most recently at Arizona State. Patterson is known for his versatility in defensive schemes as he's run the 3-3-5 and even the 4-2-5 defense during his time at Arizona State, so we could very well see some exotic defensive schemes this season. Assistant head coach Frank Maile is the also listed as the co-defensive coordinator.

It does help that Utah State brings back all three starters on the defensive line and three starting linebackers, including senior DE Adewale Adeoye and senior ILB Suli Tamaivena. The Aggies appear to have the pieces needed to greatly improve their rush defense. We'll see if Patterson and Maile can put them together this fall.

2. Where's the Love?

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love (10) throws the ball as Boise State defensive tackle Chase Hatada (93) rushes in during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal via AP)/The Herald Journal via AP
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love (10) throws the ball as Boise State defensive tackle Chase Hatada (93) rushes in during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal via AP)/The Herald Journal via AP) | Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal

Sophomore QB Jordan Love took over the starting position a bit sooner than expected last season due to Kent Myers' struggles down the stretch, and that experience will undoubtedly come in handy as he enters the season as the undisputed starter.

Love is a mobile quarterback like several of Utah State's recent starting quarterbacks, including Myers. While he will run the ball when the opportunity presents itself, he is more likely to buy time with his feet to set up a pass. Love proved last season that he can throw the long ball with two touchdown passes of 70 yards or longer against UNLV.

There's still plenty of room for improvement for the young quarterback as he heads into his first full year as the starter. He can certainly boost his QB rating as he was No. 122 on ESPN's QBR for 2017. Still, Love showed that he, at the very least, has the potential to be a solid quarterback for the Aggies. Utah State fans will certainly hope that he can build on his earlier-than-expected start last season.

And with leading wide receiver Ron'quavion Tarver and top tight end Dax Raymond both back, Love won't lack targets.

3. Who will start at running back?

Utah State wide receiver Gerold Bright (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with Ty Shaw (75) and Roman Andrus during the first half of an NCAA college football game against San Jose State in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff
Utah State wide receiver Gerold Bright (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with Ty Shaw (75) and Roman Andrus during the first half of an NCAA college football game against San Jose State in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) | Jeff Chiu, AP

With last year's leading rusher LaJuan Hunt gone, Utah State has two promising players to fill the void. The first is converted wide receiver Gerold Bright. He brings explosive playing ability as he already has a 75-yard touchdown rush to his credit. He also has the ability to sneak out of the backfield to snag a reception.

Junior-college transfer Darwin Thompson is also in the mix, and NFL.com recently featured him in on their list of 18 most freakish athletes for 2018. Thompson has a max squat of 560 pounds and a vertical jump of 40 inches while standing only 5-foot-8. He tore up the field with 1,391 yards rushing at Oklahoma A&M.

And with all five offensive line starters returning, the running game should be a strength for Utah State this season.

4. Who will step up in the secondary?

Utah State safety Gaje Ferguson, left, plays tight defense on Aggie tight end Travis Boman during practice Friday afternoon in Logan.
Utah State safety Gaje Ferguson, left, plays tight defense on Aggie tight end Travis Boman during practice Friday afternoon in Logan. | Jeff Hunter

While the Aggies' run defense wasn't good last season, its pass defense was excellent. Utah State was No. 19 in pass yards allowed (182.5) and No. 24 in team pass efficiency defense (116.58).

But two of the key players in that secondary are not returning in 2018: Safety Dallin Leavitt and cornerback Jalen Davis. Leavitt had four picks while Davis had five, including three returned for touchdowns. They accounted for 69 percent of Utah State's picks last season, not to mention their combined six tackles for loss and 20 pass breakups.

But that doesn't mean the cupboard at secondary is bare. Senior safety Gaje Ferguson returns after making 90 tackles last season. And this could be redshirt freshman Andre Grayson's time to shine.

Despite the losses of Davis and Leavitt, the Aggies still have enough depth to run a nickel package effectively. The only question is who will step up to make the big interceptions and pass breakups this season.

5. Can Utah State learn to finish close games?

Brigham Young Cougars tight end Matt Bushman (89) can't hold onto the ball with Utah State Aggies linebacker Suli Tamaivena (42) applying pressure as USU goes on to defeat BYU 40-24 at Maverik Stadium in Logan Utah on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
Brigham Young Cougars tight end Matt Bushman (89) can't hold onto the ball with Utah State Aggies linebacker Suli Tamaivena (42) applying pressure as USU goes on to defeat BYU 40-24 at Maverik Stadium in Logan Utah on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

To say that the Aggies have struggled over the past few seasons to close out a close game is an understatement. The last time Utah State won a game decided by a touchdown or less was all the way back in November of 2015 when it defeated Nevada 31-27. Since then, Utah State has played eight games decided by seven points or less and lost all of them.

It's remarkable Utah State made it to a bowl game last season despite this weakness. But if the Aggies want to compete for a division title this season, they have to find a way to win close contests.

According to ESPN's FPI, there are two games on Utah State's schedule where the projected win percentage for each opponent is right around 50: at BYU and at Wyoming.

The Aggies should make it back to a bowl game without too much problem even if they can't win close games, but Utah State could break double-digit wins if it can improve in that one area.