2009 Utah State Aggies Football Preview
2008 Record: (3-9, 3-5)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Gary Anderson (First year at Utah State, 4-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Baldwin
Defensive Coordinator: Bill Busch
Returning Leaders for Utah State:
Other Key Returnees: G Funaki Asisi, DT Alan Bishop, G Phillip Gapelu, DE Darby Golden, OT Spencer Johnson, C Brennan McFadden, TE Jeremy Mitchell, WR Stanley Morrison, CB Kejon Murphy, DE Nathan Royster, WR Omar Sawyer, RB Robert Turbin, LB Bobby Wagner
Key Losses: DT Ben Calderwood, OT Derek Hoke, LB Jake Hutton, CB Roy Hurst, WR Otis Nelson, S Caleb Taylor
Heading into 2008, the expectations for Utah State were about as low as they could get. But the Western Athletic Conference was in for a little surprise as the Aggies beat Idaho, Hawaii and New Mexico State. USU even kept a couple of other games close and nearly knocked off a pretty good Fresno State team. Yet, that was not enough for Coach Brent Guy to keep his job and new head man Gary Anderson is creating even higher expectations.
Utah State's Strengths:
Coach Anderson is a defensive guy, but it is the offense that has the potential to explode. Quarterback Diondre Borel spent the first three games of the 2008 season on the sidelines and then took over the starting gig and never let go. The 6-0 junior passed for 1,705 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for 632 yards and five more scores. Borel is a perfect fit for the spread offense and when there is nobody open down field he will make plays with his feet. When Borel is not running, Robert Turbin will be. Turbin had a solid freshman campaign, rushing for 485 yards and six touchdowns. Borel will be the playmaker, but having somebody to hand the ball off to every once in a while will make the offense much more dynamic. The bigger issue is who is going to catch Borel’s passes? Otis Nelson was the best receiver last year, but he is gone. Seniors Xavier Bowman and Nmandi Gwacham have to step up and it would be nice to get some production from youngsters like Stanley Morrison.
Utah State's Weaknesses:
The defense was pretty awful in 2008 and now they have to live without defensive tackle Ben Calderwood, linebacker Jake Hutton and a couple starters in the secondary. Those who are left were pretty young and inexperienced last year, so there is room for improvement from players like Bobby Wagner who was forced into action as a freshman. Senior linebacker Paul Igboeli will be the leader of the unit and strong safety James Brindley is a steadying force in the secondary, but this group needs a talent overhaul and a winning mentality. The new coaching staff is hoping to bring both of those with them, but it may take a little time before the Utah State defense does not rank towards the bottom of the conference in most major categories, especially if there is no pass rush from returning ends Darby Golden and Nathan Royster.
The Bottom Line for the Aggies:
If Utah State won three games last year, there is no reason to believe that they cannot win five, or even six, games this time around. The previous staff was forced to play young players last season and now those guys are a year older and wiser and the hiring of Coach Anderson has the folks in Logan quite excited…and rightfully so. A bowl game probably will not happen this year, but Utah State should be bowling by 2010.
By Joel Welser
Check out all of the 2009 college football previews online through College Sports Fans.
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.