Jan. 7, 2014
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State football concluded the 2013 season ranked among the top 30 teams in the nation in 17 different statistical categories, including ranking seventh in the nation in scoring defense.
Defensively, Utah State allowed just 17.1 points per game in 2013 to rank first in the Mountain West and seventh in the nation. USU also ranked first in the MW and eighth in the nation in rushing defense (106.7 ypg), first in the MW and 12th in the nation in total defense (330.9 ypg), first in the MW and 15th in the nation in passing efficiency defense (113.2), second in the MW and 35th in the nation in sacks (2.43 pg), and second in the MW and 52nd in the nation in passing defense (224.1 ypg).
Furthermore, Utah State's defense limited its opponents to just 75 first downs on 230 third-down attempts (.326) to rank first in the Mountain West and 11th in the nation. USU also ranked eighth in the nation in forcing three-and-outs on the year as it has forced 78 three-and-outs on 173 drives, which averages out to 45.1 percent of the time and 5.57 per game. And in the red zone, USU allowed 31 scores in 45 red zone opportunities (.689) to rank first in the MW and sixth nationally. Overall, USU allowed only 19 touchdowns on 45 trips into the red zone (.422), which ranked second in the nation. USU's opponents also converted 12-of-15 field goals in the red zone, while USU forced five turnovers and took the ball over on downs five times, while having the half end once.
Utah State's defense also ranked third in the Mountain West and 10th in the nation during the season with an average of 7.8 tackles for loss per game, and first in the MW and 19th in the nation with a turnover margin of plus 0.79 as it had 30 takeaways and 19 turnovers on the season, as those 19 turnovers ranked 40th nationally.
Offensively, Utah State averaged 31.8 points per game to rank sixth in the Mountain West and 50th in the nation in 2013. USU also ranked seventh in the MW and 46th in the nation in passing efficiency (135.2), seventh in the MW and 53rd in the nation in rushing offense (178.1 ypg), eighth in the MW and 46th in the nation in completion percentage (.617), 10th in the MW and 59th in the nation in total offense (411.5 ypg), 10th in the MW and 64th in the nation in passing offense (233.4 ypg), and 11th in the MW and 88th in the nation in sacks allowed (2.36 pg).
Utah State was also 52-for-61 (.852) on red zone opportunities this year to rank fifth in the Mountain West and 46th nationally. Overall, USU scored 40 touchdowns and converted 12-of-16 field goals in the red zone, while turning it over on downs three times, having one turnover and having the half end once. USU also converted 105-of-232 third downs (.453) in 2013 to rank second in the Mountain West and 29th in the nation.
On special teams, Utah State ranked first in the Mountain West and second in the nation in punt return defense as it allowed just 1.30 yards per punt return, and first in the MW and fifth in the nation in kickoff return defense as it allowed 17.58 yards per kick return. USU also ranked fifth in the MW and 37th in the nation in net punting (37.9 ypk), fifth in the MW and 38th in the nation in punt returns (10.3 ypr), and sixth in the MW and 46th in the nation in kickoff returns (22.5 ypr). USU has also blocked two punts this year to rank fifth nationally.
Utah State players who ranked among the statistical leaders in the Mountain West and in the nation in 2013 includes senior cornerback Nevin Lawson who ranked third in the MW and 25th in the nation in passes defended (1.21 pg), and tied for eighth in the MW and tied for 82nd in the nation in interceptions (0.29 pg); senior linebacker Jake Doughty who ranked fourth in the MW and 10th in the nation in tackles (10.6 pg); junior safety Brian Suite who ranked fifth in the MW and 41st in the nation in interceptions (0.36 pg); junior linebacker Zach Vigil who ranked seventh in the MW and 42nd in the nation in tackles (8.9 pg); senior running back Joey DeMartino who ranked fifth in the MW and 31st in the nation with 13 rushing touchdowns, and sixth in the MW and 45th in the nation in rushing (87.2 ypg); senior safety Maurice Alexander who ranked 32nd in the MW in tackles (6.2 pg); sophomore linebacker Kyler Fackrell who ranked 35th in the MW in tackles (5.9 pg); sophomore wide receiver Bruce Natson who ranked first in the MW and second in the nation with two punt returns for touchdowns, and fourth in the MW and 22nd in the nation in punt returns (11.3 ypr); senior cornerback Tay Glover-Wright who ranked sixth in the MW and 58th in the nation in kickoff returns (22.6 ypr); junior placekicker Nick Diaz who ranked second in the MW in extra point percentage (98.1), fourth in the MW and 43rd in the nation in field goals (1.21 pg), sixth in the MW and 59th in the nation in field goal percentage (.739) and ninth in the MW and 72nd in the nation in scoring (7.3 ppg); and junior punter Jaron Bentrude who ranked ninth in the MW and 80th in the nation in punting (39.8 ypk).
Utah State concluded the 2013 season with a 21-14 win against 24th-ranked Northern Illinois in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to finish the year with a 9-5 record and tie the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history. With its win against Northern Illinois, Utah State posted back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history as it played in its third-straight bowl game, also a first at USU.
Utah State, who finished the 2013 season by winning six of its final seven games, also set the school record for conference wins as it posted a 7-1 league mark in its first season in the Mountain West to win the Mountain Division of the conference and advance to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
Utah State ended the year ranking tied for 37th nationally in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls with two votes each, marking the second time in as many years that USU has concluded the season ranked among the top teams in the nation as the 2012 team was ranked 16th in the final AP poll, 17th in the final coaches' poll and 22nd in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings.
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