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Robert Briggs’ arrival couldn’t have come at a better time for Utah State

The true freshman was a standout in his first collegiate game, a much needed addition to the Aggies’ offense,

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Utah State’s Robert Briggs (22) raises his hand before he scores a touch down against the UConn Huskies at Maverik Stadium in Logan on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. Utah State won 31-20.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

The Utah State Aggies needed running back depth. Badly.

Utah State head coach Blake Anderson hadn’t been shy about that fact, whether it be at the conclusion of the 2021 season, entering spring camp or again entering fall camp.

In Anderson’s mind, behind Calvin Tyler Jr., Utah State simply didn’t have enough in its running back room, and it appeared to be a real problem.

“We know Calvin is the guy and likely will continue to be the guy if he can stay healthy, but who is going to take a load off his back, who is going to step in as the No. 2 and the No. 3?” Anderson said at Utah State’s media day in early August.

“What is that room going to look like as it solidifies? We need to find that quickly so we can get up and running.”

One game into the 2022 season, and the Aggies look like they’ve found their No. 2 back and then some.

True freshman Robert Briggs had a standout performance for USU in its season opening win against UConn on Saturday, and that might be underselling it.

Running in relief of Tyler Jr., the Bellville, Texas native carried the ball 10 times for 85 yards and a touchdown, averaging 8.5 yards per carry.

Briggs was at times explosive — his 23-yard touchdown was the longest run by an Aggie — at other times patient and far more poised than should be expected of a true freshman in his first collegiate game.

Exactly what Utah State needed.

“He has been a great addition,” Anderson said. “We needed him desperately and he showed up big today. He takes a load off (Calvin Tyler Jr.), and in our system you need two or three (running backs).

“That is another piece that we honestly didn’t have. That change of pace, that change up is going to be really helpful if he can just continue to run.”

Briggs’ performance shouldn’t be an outlier, either. The traits he put on display against UConn are inherent traits the Aggies have seen up close throughout fall camp, when Briggs officially joined the team.

“He is pretty much what you saw today,” Anderson said. “A guy that was patient, a guy that (can) get downhill, run tough. The first (tackler) doesn’t get him down very often. He has a maturity that a lot of true freshmen don’t have.

“He protected the ball and has learned our offense in a short period of time. He has not looked like a freshman physically or mentally, and the crowd saw what we’ve seen, a guy that falls forward.

“And, if given a glimpse, he can get to end zone. The guy runs a 10.4, 10.5-second 100 meter (dash). If you give him an inch, he is going to take it.”

Utah State was the the 83rd-best team in the country in rushing yards per game last season — at 140.1 yards per contest — and that isn’t at all what Anderson hoped to get from the 2022 version of the Aggies.

After Tyler Jr., rushed for a career high 161 yards on 33 carries, with Briggs adding his 85 yards, though, things are looking up for the Aggies’ rushing attack.

And Briggs, well, he only engenders excitement for the future, this season and beyond.

“It is great. It is exciting to see Briggs,” senior cornerback Ajani Carter said. “You see him coming out of the backfield getting up the field and getting a touchdown in his first game. As a freshman? That is awesome.”