Even though Utah State just came off a 60-13 rout of New Mexico State, head coach Matt Wells sees plenty of work for the Aggies to do as they prepare for Tennessee Tech on Thursday night.
"I’m really proud of our players with how they performed Saturday night. There is a lot to clean up — a lot for the players to be very openly critical of themselves and try to hold themselves to a high standard," Wells said in his weekly press conference. "We didn’t get as many three-and-outs as we wanted, so there is still a lot to clean up. Offensively, there was some back and forth to a rhythm, and not being in a rhythm. It doesn’t overly concern me. We played average on offense."
Likewise, junior running back Gerold Bright wasn't completely satisfied with Saturday's game. "We didn’t play our best game and we were sloppy. The thing that comes out of that game is we put up 60 points and we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds, shooting ourselves in the foot. There are a lot of things we can correct to be on the road to success and have more success as an offense," Bright said.
I don’t think we have to change too much. We don’t have that much time to do like what we did last week, is to have a Monday practice, a Tuesday practice. Now, we’re feeling like it’s the end of the week. We have to prepare a little bit faster and watch film like today and yesterday to be more prepared for things. – Utah State defensive end Adewale Adeoye
Still, there was plenty of praise to go around. Kicker Dominik Eberle earned Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week honors after matching two NCAA records with 24 points scored and three field goals of 50 yards or longer in the same game. Senior defensive back Aaron Wade was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week after making 10 tackles and two interceptions against New Mexico State.
"Big props to both of those guys," Wells said. "The field-goal team did a phenomenal job. The kickoff return team, not just with the touchdown, but with the other return, as well, did a nice job. We got a lot of knockdowns. On punt return, Jordan Nathan has done a really nice job. We’ve done a nice job of holding guys up."
Holder DJ Nelson also earned national attention as he was named the Mortell Award Holder of the Week. If the awards ceremony was tomorrow, the Aggies would probably be the proud owners of both the Mortell Award and the Lou Groza Award.
But Utah State doesn't have long to relish in its accomplishments with the visiting Golden Eagles cutting the week's preparation short.
"I haven’t missed two days yet. This is the first time we’ve missed two days. We’ve been on a six-day week, missed one day nine times. We’ve never lost two days in the week. It alters it," Wells said. "Wednesday, our day before schedule, may be altered the most. We’re going to do a little bit more work on Wednesday. Thursday is Thursday. Game day is going to be the same. We’ll be ready for Thursday night."
"I don't think we have to change too much. We don’t have that much time to do like what we did last week, is to have a Monday practice, a Tuesday practice," said senior defensive end Adewale Adeoye. "Now, we’re feeling like it’s the end of the week. We have to prepare a little bit faster and watch film like today and yesterday to be more prepared for things."
Meanwhile, Utah State's opponent Tennessee Tech is struggling to find wins. The Golden Eagles went 1-10 last season, and they are off to a 0-2 start to 2018. Coach Wells still found things he liked about this team.
"I like their freshman quarterback (Bailey Fisher). He has a little moxie to him. To me, he’s a tough, durable guy that throws a very catchable football. The running back (Andrew Goldsmith) has done some nice stuff running the ball. On defense, they’re strong up the middle. They have some big, good-looking bodies. The two defensive tackles, the two linebackers, the two safeties, you look at them up the middle and they’re physical, well-put-together guys, and run to the ball well," Wells said.