Utah State (0-1) vs. Idaho State (0-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 6 p.m. MDT.
Venue: Maverik Stadium, Logan, Utah.
Radio: Aggie Sports Network.
Series: Utah State leads 18-2.
Weather: Mostly sunny with little to no chance of precipitation with slight winds out of southwest and temperatures in the low 80s at kickoff.
For Utah State: The Aggies are 0-1 to start the season after falling at Iowa, 24-14. USU showed potential against the Hawkeyes, but was unable to overcome a dismal start.
For Idaho State: The Bengals struggled mightily last season, finishing 1-10, but displayed dramatic improvement in their season-opening 36-28 loss at San Diego State.
What to watch for
After one week of football, questions remain for Utah State, a program that was remade during the offseason with 50-plus new additions.
The Aggies flashed some potential in their season-opening loss at Iowa, particularly in the second half on both sides of the ball. USU’s defense was especially stout, when it excised mistakes, while the Aggies’ offense had its moments last Saturday.
Arguably the biggest question for Utah State against Idaho State will be whether the Aggies’ rushing attack can get back on track.
With three capable running backs in Robert Briggs, Davon Booth and Rahsul Faison, USU has plenty of options, but that proved difficult against the Hawkeyes. A strong running game would bode well for the Aggies going forward, opening up the RPO game, the deep ball in the pass game and the legs of quarterback Cooper Legas.
Defensively, the Aggies have to replace injured linebacker Max Alford, who is out for the season with a knee injury suffered in the loss to Iowa. Gavin Barthiel and Bronson Olevao Jr., were the stand-ins against Iowa and each had moments, good and bad. Determining which player will be effective moving forward will be vital for an Aggies defense that showed promise.
As for Idaho State, the Bengals fared better against San Diego State than nearly anyone expected, threatening the Aztecs throughout the game. ISU runs a pass-heavy RPO system on offense and will try to spread out the Aggies as much as possible.
Defensively, the Bengals run a unique system — a 3-3-5 — that could make passing the ball difficult, while allowing for success in the interior run game. Idaho State will hope to make USU one-dimensional, eliminating big plays in the passing game.
Jordan Cooke and Hunter Hays (and maybe Matthew Cavellero), Idaho State quarterbacks: The Bengals used two quarterbacks against San Diego State last weekend — Cooke and Hays — who combined to complete 30 of 63 pass attempts for 309 yards and two touchdowns (they also combined to throw three interceptions). Cavellero, meanwhile, didn’t play against SDSU but is listed on the Bengals’ depth chart as an equal candidate to start at QB against USU. Whoever takes snaps at quarterback — be it one of the aforementioned players or all three — will be a player to watch given Idaho State’s attack. The Bengals want to throw the ball and throw it a lot, while spreading the defense out and running a pass-heavy RPO scheme.
“You’ve got to respect every opponent in the process of every week and this team (Idaho State) is no different than any other. If we don’t play our best football, we deserve to get beat. And it doesn’t doesn’t matter who you’re playing. These guys (the Bengals) will come in with a lot of confidence from how they played against San Diego State. They went in, not really with super high expectations, but probably came out of (that game) with ridiculously high expectations about what’s possible (for them), because of how well they played. So we’re gonna get their best shot.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson
“They got some good players. They got some guys on their team that could play in the SEC. They just didn’t put it together the way they wanted to last year. So, hey, it’s going to be a different front that we’re going to see on offense and a much different offensive attack. So we’re going to be under much different forms of stress than we were last weekend. It’ll be a completely different game, so the performance will probably be completely different in many respects.” — Idaho State head coach Cody Hawkins
Utah State: at Air Force on Sept. 15.
Idaho State: vs. Northern Iowa on Sept. 16.
Utah State schedule
- Sep. 2 — Iowa 24, Utah State 14.
- Sept. 9 — vs. Idaho State (6 p.m. MDT, KJZZ).
- Sept. 16 — at Air Force (6 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network).
- Sept. 23 — vs. James Madison (6 p.m. MDT).
- Sept. 30 — at UConn (10 a.m. MDT, CBS Spots Network).
- Oct. 7 — vs. Colorado State (6 p.m. MDT).
- Oct. 13 — vs. Fresno State (6 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network).
- Oct. 21 — at San Jose State (5 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network).
- Nov. 4 — at San Diego State (TBA).
- Nov. 11 — vs. Nevada (1 p.m. MST).
- Nov. 18 — vs. Boise State (5 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).
- Nov. 24 — at New Mexico (1:30 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).