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Why Jason Shelley won Utah State’s starting quarterback job

Shelley was named the Aggies’ starter on Monday, with Andrew Peasley listed as his primary backup

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Utah Utes quarterback Jason Shelley (15) runs the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Shelley was named Utah State’s starting quarterback ahead of the Aggies’ season opener against Boise State.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

When the Utah State Aggies take the field against the Boise State Broncos Saturday night in their 2020 season opener, they’ll be led by none other than Utah transfer Jason Shelley.

Shelley was officially named the Aggies’ starting quarterback Monday, a little over three months after he transferred to USU.

“He has come a long ways since being around the team. He has done a good job.” — Utah State coach Gary Andersen on newly named starting quarterback Jason Shelley

There are myriad of reasons why he won the job, something that was never guaranteed to him upon his arrival in Logan. Nothing played a greater role in the mind of head coach Gary Andersen than the growth Shelley has made since he joined the Aggies.

“He has come a long ways since being around the team,” Andersen said. “He has done a good job.”

Shelley’s versatility in both the run and pass games also played a role in the decision — “If we feel we can run the ball effectively, I can add to that and if we need me to throw the ball 30-40 times a game I can do that too,” Shelley said — as did his day-to-day consistency during the quarterback competition.

“It was very competitive,” Shelley explained. “(Andrew) Peasley is a great athlete and throws a very pretty ball. He gave me good competition. I had to be at my best every day. I couldn’t take any days off.”

Shelley’s experience as a starter at a Power Five university also came into play.

“That helped,” Andersen said. “Was it a difference maker in the end, (the reason) why he is starting? Absolutely not, but he has some experience playing games.”

While he is the starter, the job is not guaranteed to Shelley in perpetuity.

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Utah State quarterback Andrew Peasley warms up during an NCAA football game between Colorado State and Utah State Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Fort Collins, Colo. Peasley was named the No. 2 quarterback for the Aggies ahead of the 2020 season opener against Boise State.

Jack Dempsey, Associated Press

Andersen made it clear that Peasley is basically quarterback 1B to Shelley’s 1A.

“It was a very competitive camp and I expect them both to play,” Andersen said. “That should be the first part of this. Jason has done a good job and I think Andrew has done a good job also. There has been some back and forth. They both want to play and they both want to compete. Jason will go out and take the next snap, but it isn’t off the table that Andrew will play.”

Ultimately, the Aggies feel great about whomever takes the snaps at quarterback this year, be it Shelley or Peasley.

“We are in great hands, no matter who is in the game,” safety Shaq Bond said. “Both make great throws and great decisions. Whoever goes out there, we feel we are in good hands.”