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Fine line for USU football

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In recent column I postulated that Utah States jump to the Mountain West could be even more daunting than Utahs move to the Pac-12.

On USU media day, I talked with Aggie linebackers coach Kevin Clune about the jump. The reason I asked him is because he has coached at Southern Utah, Weber State and Utah, too, so he knows football in the West as well as anyone. My question was this: Looking at your schedule, it seems there is a fine line between winning, say, four games and winning eight or nine games. True?


Deseret News photo His response: When you look at our schedule, it kind of came to us. There are a lot of good things about it. On the Mountain (Division) side of things, Boise has always been a quality team, but the drop-off after that is not very steep, the difference between the first and last place team is not going to be very much on that side.

USU plays Boise but avoids Fresno State and San Diego State, the 1-2 picks in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference.

On the other side, Clune continued, theres maybe little bit more variance between the top and bottom, but theyre still quality teams. But we got a pretty good draw, we got UNLV, which we know little about from last year, San Jose weve known about forever. Hawaii is kind of brand new, but its an interesting schedule because theres some really good teams on our non-conference schedule -- Utah, USC and BYU are all great teams, then we go right into a quality conference.

Its not like last year, when people kind of didnt realize that we sort of had four teams right in the middle (of the conference) that werent exactly tough. And so...we have to come every week and take care business. I think our kids are ready for it.

Regarding the Aggies fit in the MWC, Clune said: These should have been the rivalries all along, all the mountain teams.