You needn’t look too hard to see that the additions Utah State football made during the offseason have paid off.

Two games into the 2023 season — a competitive loss at Iowa and a record-breaking win over Idaho State — and the Aggies (1-1) appear to be a better team than they were last year. Especially at this early juncture.

(Remember, USU started the 2022 season 1-4 overall, with back-to-back losses at home to Weber State and UNLV).

Through three weeks of college football, Utah State leads the nation in rushing yards per attempt (7.6) and is tied for first nationally in defensive touchdowns (2). The Aggies also rank among the top 40 teams at the FBS level in 17 other statistical categories, like total offense (No. 35), rushing offense (No. 6) and scoring offense (No. 18), to name a few.

(Scoring 78 points in a single game will do that).

Much of Utah State’s apparent resurgence is connected to the newest Aggies, of which there are many.

After an offseason of upheaval — with both the roster and coaching staff — 26 players made their Utah State debut Week 1 against Iowa (15 of those players also made the Division 1 debuts).

It’s a long list, including: safeties Anthony Switzer, Javar Strong, Simeon Harris, Devin Dye and Avante Dickerson; running backs Rashul Faison and Davon Booth; wide receivers Micah Davis, Colby Bowman and Kahanu Davis; cornerbacks Jaiden Francois and Gabriel Bryan; linebacker Bronson Olevao Jr. and Gavin Barthiel; defensive ends Blaine Spires and Cian Slone; defensive tackles Siaosi Lauhingoa and Sir Mells, tight end Will Monney and offensive linemen Teague Andersen, Shively Asoau Fua, Aloali’I Maui, Tavo Motu’apuaka, Bryce Radford and Ralph Frias III.

Oh and placekicker William Testa.

Then there are the new coaches, five in total, including defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen, running backs coach Rodney Freeman II, defensive line coach Tevita Finau, cornerbacks coach (defensive pass game coordinator) Mitchell White and offensive line coach Cooper Bassett.

With so many new names and faces, it can be difficult to recognize any, but more than a few of the new Aggies have made indelible marks already.

Take Switzer. The safety/linebacker/nickel back/do it all defender has been elite through the first two games of the season and leads the team in total tackles with 18.

Those numbers doesn’t do Switzer justice, either. He has been USU’s best defensive player and arguably the best player on team, regardless of position. And he knows it, too, while somehow maintaining an air of humility that comes across as completely genuine.

“The Lord has given me so much ability,” Switzer said. “... I do it all for the Lord, and for this, the name on my chest (Utah State). I gotta go out there and give it my all. These people paid to watch me play and I’m not going to lie, I feel like I’m one of the best players in college football. So when people come to watch me play, I’m going to give them everything.”

It isn’t just Switzer, though.

Harris is the second-leading tackler on the team (16) and has more solo tackles than any Aggie (11) so far.

The Colorado transfer has flown somewhat under the radar, but along with Switzer has helped remake the Aggie secondary into a real strength.

Included in that group as well is Francois, who had a 75-yard pick-six against Idaho State, not to mention the first tackles for loss of his collegiate career and a career-high seven tackles. The UCF transfer is fourth on the Aggies for most tackles made this season.

There is also Barthiel and Olevao Jr., who’ve filled in for the injured Max Alford and made an immediate impact (both are top 10 tacklers).

On offense, Faison, a Snow College transfer, is the team’s leading rusher, with 155 yards through two games. Booth is right behind him, No. 2 on the team with 120 yards and a team-best two touchdowns.

The pair of former JUCO backs have remade the Aggies’ running backs room, for the better. Them along with coach Freeman, who Blake Anderson praised following the win over Idaho State.

“I think Rodney Freeman’s doing a phenomenal job,” Anderson said. “Our tracks, our patience and our blocking at that position have improved over the spring and summer. He’s been a great addition.”

Three of the Aggies’ top five pass catchers thus far are new players — Davis, Bowman and Faison — who’ve combined for nine receptions and 113 yards and a touchdown.

Faison, Booth and Davis are all top 5 on the team in all-purpose yards as well.

More than the statistics, though, the new faces in Logan have changed the mindset and seriousness of the team.

That was apparent against Iowa, when the Aggies didn’t fold after a dismal start. Instead, they battled, got better and by the end of the game looked like the superior team.

Then against Idaho State, the Aggies didn’t mess around and took care of business against an inferior opponent, in record-breaking fashion no less.

Anderson described it as maturity — he specifically credited that to multiple players, Switzer first among them — and contrasted how different the team’s approach to Idaho State was, when compared with the approach taken last year prior to the Weber State game.

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“As you guys can imagine, we had a lot of conversations about how poorly we played against Weber last year,” Anderson said. “I’ve got to give Weber credit. They were a really good football team and we saw that. They went deep in the (FCS) playoffs and had a great run. They would have been a tough matchup anyway. But our guys didn’t listen last year. They just flat didn’t. They didn’t get ready and they felt like it was a game that would be easy. No matter how much screaming and hollering I did, trying to remind them that these guys (Weber State) can play, we just didn’t. We weren’t ready and we deserved to get our tail kicked.

“This (year’s) group was very mature about the week. I made it very clear to them what we were up against, that I felt we were the better team, but only if we acted like that and carried ourselves the right way. ... I felt like they handled things maturely with a great week of work. Guys were focused and had tremendous energy in the locker room coming out. And, you know, (what you saw against Idaho State) was the result of that.”

Much of that change in mindset can be traced to the newcomers — not all, but much. And it will be tested moving forward, starting with Air Force on Friday night.

“We’ve got extremely tough schedule,” Anderson said. “The next three weeks are brutal. We’ll find out real quick what we are made of.”

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