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Utah State football report card: Aggies get mostly tough grades in loss to BYU

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Ben Bywater (33) tackles Utah State Aggies running back Calvin Tyler Jr. (4) in Logan on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.
Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Ben Bywater (33) tackles Utah State Aggies running back Calvin Tyler Jr. (4) in Logan on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

In what ended up being kind of a funky game, the Utah State Aggies ultimately fell to the 13th-ranked BYU Cougars 34-20 on Friday night at Maverik Stadium in Logan.

Despite not playing very well for much of the night (the Cougars had a fair amount to do with that), the Aggies were still within a touchdown inside of 10 minutes remaining before giving up a big play to BYU running back Tyler Allgeier, and the home team didn’t have enough to come back.

Here’s how Utah State graded in dropping to 3-2 on the season.

Offense

Though the Aggies improved upon their 3-point performance from last week against the Boise State Broncos, things still weren’t wonderful against a BYU defense that did play well Friday but has been somewhat inconsistent this season.

Most notably, Utah State’s run game was virtually non-existent. Some of that had to do with the fact that Calvin Tyler Jr. got banged up, but he hadn’t been very effective before getting hurt.

In all, the Aggies finished with just 31 rushing yards split up between six players. Elelyon Noa was the most effective runner, as he did a lot to help set up Utah State’s lone touchdown in the first half, but he wasn’t used after that.

It’s not all on the running backs, however. The offensive line had problems much of the night with the Cougars’ defensive front, which impacted not only the Aggies’ ability to run, but also the passing game when BYU brought pressure.

Speaking of the passing game, it was very boom or bust. Utah State connected on a couple of deep plays for touchdowns, but too often quarterback Logan Bonner didn’t link up with receivers on shots downfield, which affected what the Aggies did on ensuing downs.

Bonner wound up throwing for 276 yards with two touchdowns, but he went just 21 of 41 to get there, including an interception (in fairness, it was a great play by Cougar defensive back Malik Moore). Andrew Peasley spelled him late because of injury and finished 5 of 7 for 38 yards but threw an interception that allowed BYU to ice the game.

Less backed by data is the idea that the Aggies got some momentum in the third quarter as the Cougar offense stalled (more on that in a minute), but Utah State couldn’t do anything with it.

Grade: C

Defense

Saving the Aggies from a really bad grade here was the fact that BYU was down to third-string quarterback Jacob Conover in the second half and couldn’t get much going for a long spell in the final two quarters, but otherwise, things were not great.

In the first half, Cougar starting quarterback Baylor Romney and his receivers had their way against the home side, as Romney completed 15 of 19 passes for 187 yards, although the BYU throw game did only account for one touchdown.

Not only was the Cougar passing game working, but running back Tyler Allgeier was near 100 yards rushing by halftime as a BYU offensive line that was missing multiple starters controlled the line of scrimmage.

The Cougars had 24 points by intermission.

Then in the second half, BYU’s offense became pretty one-dimensional as Conover couldn’t get much going, but Allgeier just took over. For the night, Allgeier finished with 218 yards rushing on just 22 carries. He broke through for a couple of big runs, but perhaps worse for Utah State was the fact that he consistently got chunk yardage.

With the caveat that the Cougars are a good team, this was not the first time this season that the Aggies have struggled defensively. They did have a couple of nice stands, but it’s probably pretty clear at this point that they’re not all that great on that side of the ball.

Grade: D+

Special teams

Definitely the best phase of the game for Utah State on Friday night. Kicker Connor Coles was 2 for 2 on field goals, and both came at pretty big moments, even if they were in the first half.

With the Aggies down 10-0 toward the end of the first quarter and desperate to get something going, Coles made a 52-yarder (a miss obviously would have given BYU good field position and a chance to really blow the game open). Then inside of a minute to play before halftime, Coles made a 45-yarder on a promising drive that had stalled.

That made the score 24-13 at intermission, keeping Utah State very much within striking distance heading into the second half.

Nothing else of a whole lot of ultimate consequence happened for the Aggies on special teams the rest of the night.

Grade: A-