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What’s changed for Utah State football?

Cooper Legas’ legs have changed everything for the Aggies offense.

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Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas (5) carries the ball for a 32-yard touchdown as Air Force linebacker Johnathan Youngblood, right, defends, during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Logan, Utah.

Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal via AP

For one game at least, Utah State football looked nothing like it had early this season.

In the win over Air Force Saturday night, the Aggies were effective in all three phases, but particularly on offense.

Utah State totaled 414 yard of offense — 215 passing yards and 199 rushing yards.

The Aggies converted 5 of 12 third down tries, were a perfect 2 of 2 on fourth down and 2 of 2 on red zone scoring chances.

Individual Aggies shined, including wide receivers Brian Cobbs and Terrell Vaughn, as well as running back Calvin Tyler Jr.

It was an offensive performance unlike anything Utah State had had this season, outside of the first half against BYU.

There is a commonality between those performances, a reason for the resurgence of USU’s offense, which was one of the best in all of college football last season — quarterback Cooper Legas.

Since taking over as the starting quarterback, Legas has completely changed the outlook of Utah State’s attack and it is his legs that have made all the difference.

Yes, Legas completed 18 of 23 passes for 215 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against the Falcons, but his running ability — he has rushed for a combined 128 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks — has made the Aggies much more difficult to defend.

“It (Legas’ mobility) opens things up,” Utah State head coach Blake Anderson said. “It definitely does. When you think back to last year, in some of the big wins that we had, Logan (Bonner) was able to do that a few times. He doesn’t look like (Legas) running, but he was able to extend plays and move the chains.

“We just didn’t have the ability to do that with (Bonner) being a little bit limited on his mobility (this year).”

Legas is a more capable runner than Bonner ever was — more physical and more athletic — and designed quarterback runs and the RPO have opened things up for Tyler Jr. to have his best performances of the season — defenses can no longer key in on the Aggies’ running backs — which in turn has let Utah State utilize the play-action pass to greater effect, unleashing Cobbs and Vaughn.

Legas’ presence on the field has quite simply benefitted everyone.

“We are balanced. We are using everybody,” Anderson said. “(Legas) loves to run and he is very comfortable in that setting. He is going to continue to get better. It does open up the field for us in a way that we just didn’t have.

“I have to think as a defensive coordinator he (Legas) makes you think about what coverages you want to play and where you want to add the extra body. Hopefully that will be a problem for people moving forward.”