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Utah State is Cooper Legas’ team now

Legas is the Aggies’ starting quarterback going forward, after taking over for an injured Logan Bonner

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Utah State Aggies quarterback Cooper Legas (5) runs for a touchdown against BYU in Provo.

Utah State Aggies quarterback Cooper Legas (5) runs for a touchdown against BYU in Provo on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Cooper Legas stood tall, all 6-feet-1 of him, his back leaned against a nondescript white cinderblock wall within the bowels of LaVell Edwards Stadium.

He looked calm, self-assured even, in the aftermath of Utah State’s 38-26 loss to rival BYU Thursday night in Provo.

Legas wasn’t pleased. His team had just lost to its rival and as he would go on to tell the assembled media, his regular-season debut as Utah State’s starting quarterback didn’t go how he wanted it to.

But standing there, waiting his turn while listening to Utah State coach Blake Anderson talk, Legas belonged. Just as he had proven on the field against the Cougars in the hours prior.

Legas is Utah State’s starting quarterback. The Aggies are his to lead and take as far as they’ll go the remainder of this season and the next.

“This is Coop’s team,” Anderson said. “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I had and have no doubt about what he can do and he played like it tonight.”

Legas wasn’t perfect against BYU. He committed three turnovers, including an early fumble that will stick with him. There were also underthrown balls, one of which Legas himself singled out.

“In my head, the worst one was a deep ball I threw to Terrell Vaughn,” Legas said. “Incomplete. I saw him beat the guy and didn’t want to overthrow him and just threw a terrible ball. He had to slow down and jump up. If I just threw it out there it is a touchdown and it is a whole different game.”

And yet, for the mistakes, Legas was exactly what Utah State needed and one of the main reasons the Aggies had a chance to upset the No. 19-ranked Cougars.

“He did so many good things,” Anderson said. “I don’t want (the mistakes) to overshadow how well he played.”

Legas brings a new dimension to Utah State’s offense, something that had been lacking with Bonner under center.

Legas’ ability to run the ball — he is a willing runner — makes everyone’s life a little easier and it is no coincidence that the Aggies had their best offensive performance of the season with Legas on the field.

“He moves the ball really well with his feet,” Anderson said. “One of the issues we had with Logan was him not being as mobile as he was a year ago. This opened things up and we clearly used his legs a lot.

“It makes defenses have to defend against an extra runner and he likes to run too, so that’s good. It will balance the field out in ways Logan wasn’t able to.”

Bonner’s career is finished at Utah State. At least his playing career, after he broke his foot late in the game against UNLV, the same foot that required offseason surgery after last season.

“He is done,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, and we got it looked at several times this week, it is going to need surgery, which he’ll get next week. ... He will need more work, more hardware to get him recovered so he can move on with his career.”

Bonner remains an integral part of the team, though, mainly as a mentor for Legas.

“I thought he (Bonner) did a great job tonight,” Anderson said. “He stayed right there and has been with him (Legas) all week. He wanted Coop to have a huge game. They pull for each other. I don’t think people understand how tight knit this group is.

“His eyes will be good, his vision, and we will keep him as involved as we can. ... I hate how this is how his career comes to an end for us but he gave everything and I love how he encouraged Coop all night.”

“He has been cool all year,” Legas added. “He is in my ear telling me what he sees. I’ve had his back all year and it is cool now that he is out he is totally supportive of me.”

And the Aggies are all in on Legas.