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The Enemy: Utah State Aggies

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Last week’s border war with Washington had a slightly different wrinkle for me than in previous years. Now a year into living in Seattle, I was far more familiar with the Huskies players than in the past. With the Dawgs opening the season versus UO, I listened to a lot of slanted local sports radio and read the Seattle papers intently, mostly looking for hints of any improvement on the part of UW. I think we all agree, they were who we thought they were.

For me, knowing the enemy further sweetened the taste of Oregon’s thrashing of the Huskies. A couple quick e-mails with Dave and we agreed to develop a weekly focus on the bad guys.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”. The words were allegedly uttered around 500 BC by Chinese General Sun Tzu, and provide a backdrop for what I hope will be a continuing feature (kudos to ThinkExist.com for the exact quote).

 

 

The Enemy: Utah State Aggies

Record 0-1 (0-0)


Last Game: @ UNLV  L 27-17
Western Athletic Conference


Logan
, UT

 

Part 1 of 2 – Utah State on Defense

Aggies players and coaches will say all the right things heading into this match-up. “We can’t worry about rankings…” “We have to play every game to win…” Reality is, Utah State is regarded by many as among the very worst FBS teams, ranking #6 in ESPN’s Bottom 10 list this week. The Aggies’ D returned nine starters from an ’07 team that ranked next to last in the WAC in key defensive categories and gave up 33 points a game. Head coach Brent Guy is in his fourth year at USU after spending 2001-04 as defensive coordinator at Arizona State. His record at USU is 6-30.  Utah State defensive coordinator Mark Johnson was a graduate assistant at Oregon in 1995.

 

Last week’s border war with Washington had a slightly different wrinkle for me than in previous years. Now a year into living in Seattle, I was far more familiar with the Huskies players than in the past. With the Dawgs opening the season versus UO, I listened to a lot of slanted local sports radio and read the Seattle papers intently, mostly looking for hints of any improvement on the part of UW. I think we all agree, they were who we thought they were.

For me, knowing the enemy further sweetened the taste of Oregon’s thrashing of the Huskies. A couple quick e-mails with Dave and we agreed to develop a weekly focus on the bad guys.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”. The words were allegedly uttered around 500 BC by Chinese General Sun Tzu, and provide a backdrop for what I hope will be a continuing feature (kudos to ThinkExist.com for the exact quote).

 

The Enemy: Utah State Aggies
Record 0-1 (0-0)


Last Game: @ UNLV  L 27-17
Western Athletic Conference


Logan
, UT

 

Part 1 of 2 – Utah State on Defense

Aggies players and coaches will say all the right things heading into this match-up. “We can’t worry about rankings…” “We have to play every game to win…” Reality is, Utah State is regarded by many as among the very worst FBS teams, ranking #6 in ESPN’s Bottom 10 list this week. The Aggies’ D returned nine starters from an ’07 team that ranked next to last in the WAC in key defensive categories and gave up 33 points a game. Head coach Brent Guy is in his fourth year at USU after spending 2001-04 as defensive coordinator at Arizona State. His record at USU is 6-30.  Utah State defensive coordinator Mark Johnson was a graduate assistant at Oregon in 1995.

Likely line up against the Oregon offense on Saturday:

LE Darby Golden (#46, 6-1, 250 lbs., Jr., CA) Tabbed as a backup in fall previews, Golden started at LE against UNLV, recording 2 assists and 0 solo tackles. He also broke up 1 pass attempt. Golden played in 11 games in 2007, starting the final three.

LT Ben Calderwood (#58, 6-2, 267 lbs., Sr., UT) Calderwood is clearly one of the leaders on defense for Utah State. He was second-team All-WAC in 2006, had 5 or more tackles in four different games in 2007 and was named to several All-WAC teams during 2008 preseason. He recorded 5 tackles last week against UNLV, including 1 tackle for a loss.

RT Casey Davis (#92, 6-3, 284 lbs., Jr., UT). Davis appears to be the beef up front for USU. He transferred in this year from Snow JC, where he was all-conference and all-region in 2007. Davis recorded just a single assisted tackle versus UNLV.

RE Nathan Royster (#54, 6-0, 256 lbs., So., CA). Perhaps a sign of better days to come on the D-line for Utah State, Royster had 3 tackles against UNLV and recorded the Aggies’ only sack of the game. Royster played sparingly as a redshirt freshman in 2007, with 6 tackles in 11 games.

LB Jake Hutton (#53, 6-0, 236 lbs., Sr., ID) This is the guy to watch on Utah State’s defense. Hutton was almost a unanimous first-team All-WAC selection in preseason 2008. He started all 12 games in 2007, finished that season with 102 tackles and was named to the WAC’s second-team all-conference list. He led the Aggies with 12 total tackles in last week’s loss to UNLV and also broke up one pass. Hutton is a quality linebacker and has recorded double-digit tackles in three consecutive games dating back to the ’07 season.

LB Jordan Glass (#41, 6-1, 240 lbs., So., CA) Here’s another guy who was projected as a back-up in preseason, but earned a start against UNLV. Glass played in 10 games in 2007, recording a total of 5 tackles. He matched that output with 5 tackles and one pass deflection in the UNLV game.

LB Paul Igboeli (#31, 6-0, 211 lbs., Jr., TX) Pronounced: Ig-bo-lee. Considerably undersized by Pac-10 standards for an outside linebacker, Igboeli showed up on a few preseason all-conference lists for the WAC. He was USU’s second leading tackler in 2007 with 95. He tallied 5 tackles in the Aggies’ first game of 2008, including 1 for a loss.

CB Roy Hurst (#2, 5-9, 193 lbs., Sr., CA) Hurst makes the switch from safety to corner for the 2008 season. He started three games in 2007 and tied for the team lead with 3 INTs last season. Hurst recorded 5 tackles – all assists – last week versus UNLV.

SS James Brindley (#3, 5-10, 195 lbs., Jr., CA) Phil Steele’s College Football Preview listed Brindley as a second-team All-WAC performer during the fall. Brindley was the team’s third leading tackler in 2007 with a total of 84. He shared the team lead for INTs with Hurst and recorded 10 or more tackles in five of the Aggies’ final seven games of ‘07 . Brindley came up big last week at UNLV, with 10 tackles including 1 for a loss.

FS Caleb Taylor (#39, 6-3, 193 lbs., Sr., CA) Taylor is listed as a strong safety in 2008 season previews, but stared at FS against UNLV. He was among Utah State’s top tacklers last season and led the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss and 7 pass deflections. Taylor recorded a total of 10 tackles in the UNLV game and got in on 1 tackle for a loss.

CB Chris Randle (#7, 5-10, 180 lbs., So., CA) Another sophomore that’s considered to be part of an improving defense at Utah State, Randle played in eight games as a freshman in 2007. He recorded 27 total tackles and deflected three passes. He recorded only a single tackle against UNLV.

Other names you’re likely to hear on Saturday: Senior safety De’von Hall had a total of 8 tackles in the loss to UNLV. Junior corner Kejon Murphy saw significant time against UNLV and chipped in with 3 tackles.


Attacking Utah State’s defense:

On paper, there’s no way the Utah State defense hangs in with one of the most potent offenses in the country. The Aggies did, after all, just surrender 27 points to a UNLV team who was included in the preseason version of the aforementioned ESPN Bottom 10. Expect Oregon coaches to demand focus from all of the offensive skill positions. If the Ducks keep the ball off the turf and throw to the guys in green (or black, yellow, etc.), this should be business as usual against an out-gunned opponent.

A veteran Oregon offensive line could simply resort to brute strength against a smallish Utah State defensive front. Just the same, Oregon’s offense calls for some finesse and timing in the zone blocking scheme. This game should be an opportunity for the entire depth of the Duck’s O-line to put some polish on their game.

Any chance the Aggies put up a fight in Autzen?

They have nothing to lose. So it’s conceivable they could fly around, take a lot of chances and maybe hang tough early. They are, however, outclassed for talent almost everywhere on the field. It’s just as conceivable that the UO offense may simply dominate this game from the outset, using size, strength and speed advantages to full effect. If Utah State defenders do gamble and play out of position, they will pay dearly against Oregon's misdirection and speed on the edge. At the very least, we can expect the Ducks to wear down the Aggies in typical Chip Kelly fashion, the end result likely being a lot of yards and a lot of points on the Oregon side of the scoreboard.


Just for conversation…  Anyone else recall Harrington, Morris, Howry and the boys of 2001-02 having to claw their way past an 0-3 Utah State team?