USU To Open WAC Play Against Idaho On Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
Sept. 25, 2006
QUICKLY -- For the third straight year Utah State (0-4, 0-0 WAC) will open conference play against Idaho (1-3, 0-0 WAC) as the teams meet at Romney Stadium in Logan on Saturday at 1:05 p.m... USU defeated the Vandals at Logan in 2004, but fell at Moscow last season... The kickoff time has been moved from its original 6:05 p.m. start... Both teams are coming off 38-0 losses... USU has lost four straight home games since beating San Jose State 24-17 here on Oct. 8 last year... USU is 8-5 in home conference games since 2000... USU will be looking to avoid an 0-5 start as the last time the Aggies were winless through five contests was 2001 (that team then won four straight and finished 4-7)... USU has started conference play with a victory four out of the last five years (loss was to Idaho last year)... USU is in the middle of a stretch of playing four straight games in the state of Utah... USU is 6-21 in the months of August and September since 2000.
ON THE AIR -- All Utah State football games are carried on KVNU 610 AM in Logan, and either 1230 AM or 1320 AM in Salt Lake City, and at www.UtahStateAggies.com with Al Lewis calling the play-by-play and Craig Hislop providing analysis. Saturday's game will be televised in the state of Idaho on KBCI. USU home games and all WAC games can be seen via the web at WAC.tv. Home USU games and some road games can be accessed via Game Tracker. This service provides updated play-by-play and statistics as they happen.
LAST TIME OUT -- Utah State's football team was shutout for the third straight game as the Aggies lost 38-0 at in-state rival Brigham Young on Saturday afternoon. Marcus Cross led the USU offensive effort rushing for 127 yards and catching five passes for 38 yards. He became the first Aggie to record two 100-yard rushing games in a season since 2003. He also became the first USU player to lead the team in rushing and receiving yards in the same game since wide receiver Kevin Robinson led in both categories against San Jose State in the fourth game of last year. USU's defense was led by sophomore transfer Derrick Cumbee, who in his first collegiate start, recorded a game-high 11 tackles. BYU scored on each of its first four possessions to take a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The Cougars added a touchdown in the third quarter on an interception return and then posted another score on its final drive of the day. USU reached the red zone twice in the game, but came away without a score both times. The Aggies produced 242 yards of offense, but allowed the Cougars 441 on the day. USU owned the time of possession advantage holding the ball for 34:10 to BYU's 25:50, but USU averaged just 3.5 yards per play while BYU gained 7.1 per attempt.
DID YOU KNOW? -- Utah State is playing the first of two consecutive home games for the first time since Sept. of 2004 when USU hosted Idaho on Sept. 11 and Utah on Sept. 18. Since that two-week homestand, the Aggies have played 15 road games and eight home contests.
DID YOU KNOW? -- USU LB Jake Hutton, a former Idaho high school defensive player of the year while at Highland High School in Pocatello, recorded his first career double-digit tackle game against the Vandals last season when he had 10 stops.
UP NEXT -- Utah State will host Fresno State on Oct. 7 for a 6:05 p.m. kickoff. as part of the Aggies' homecoming festivities.
HEAD COACH Brent Guy -- Brent Guy (Oklahoma State, 1983) is in his second year as head coach after coming to Utah State from Arizona State where he was the defensive coordinator for four years. Guy was an assistant coach (linebackers) at Utah State from 1992-94 under then head coach Charlie Weatherbie. During that time, USU posted its only bowl victory in school history, claiming the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl. Guy was involved in eight bowl games in 19 years as a collegiate assistant coach. Previous stops include Oklahoma State (1986-91 - graduate assistant 1986-87, recruiting coordinator 1988, linebackers 1989-91), Utah State (1992-94 - linebackers), Oklahoma State (1995-97 - linebackers), Boise State (1998-2000 - defensive coordinator) and Arizona State (2001-04 - defensive coordinator) before being named the Aggies' 25th head coach in December of 2004. In his first year at USU, the Aggies were 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Utah State Head Coach All WAC 2005 3-8 2-6 2006 0-4 0-0 Total 3-11 2-6
Assistant Totals Record Notes Oklahoma State (1986-91, 95-97) 51-51-1 3 Bowls Utah State (1992-94) 15-19-0 1 Bowl Boise State (1998-99) 26-10-0 2 Bowls, 2 10-win seasons Arizona State (2001-04) 13-19-0 2 Bowls Totals (19 years) 118-103-1 8 Bowls, 10 winning seasons
AGGIE ASSISTANT COACHES -- Utah State had three changes on its coaching staff from last year, as Shaun Johnson, Tracy Smith and Tony Flores joined the staff. On Monday offensive coordinator and quarterbcks coach Mike Santiago resigned and wide receivers coach Greg Stevens was named interim offensive coordinator. Wide Receivers/Interim Offensive Coordinator - Greg Stevens (Eastern Oregon, 1992, 2nd Year)... Former offensive coordinator at S.F. Austin. Running Backs - Shaun Johnson (Utah State, 1995, 1st Year)... Former Aggie wide receiver, coached Division I-AA rushing leader at Brown in 2005. Tight Ends - Tracy Smith (LSU, 2003, 1st Year)... Worked with LSU quarterbacks last year. Is son of Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Carl Smith. Offensive Line - Vance Vice (Oklahoma State, 1990, 2nd Year)... As an Oklahoma State tight end was the key to Barry Sanders winning the Heisman in 1988. Def. Coord./LB - Mark Johnson (UC Davis, 1990, 2nd Year)... Has coached at four different WAC schools (San Jose State, Boise State, Nevada and USU). Def. Line - Danilo Robinson (Utah State, 1997, 2nd Year)... Holds USU single-game sacks record with five vs. San Jose State in 1995. Safeties - Jeff Copp (Boise State, 2001, 2nd Year)... Was an all-conference defensive end while playing at Boise State. Cornerbacks - John Rushing (Washington State, 1995, 4th Year)... Was a freshman All-America corner at Washington State. Older brother of USU WR Kevin Robinson. GA - Mike McMahon (Carroll, 2004, 2nd Year)... Helped coach Carroll College to three national championship appearances. GA - Tony Flores (Utah State, 1st Year)... Moved up from serving as a work study in the football office in 2005.
USU-UI SERIES -- The series is tied at 15-15-2 with the teams having split the last four seasons. USU leads by a narrow 7-5 margin in games played in Logan and has won two straight, four of the last five, and seven of the last nine at home. As mentioned earlier, the Vandals will be USU's conference-opening opponent for the third straight season. The home team has won each of the last five meetings between the two schools.
USU-UI SERIES NOTE-ABLE -- Utah State has several players from the state of Idaho, including S Adrian Bybee (Highland HS in Pocatello), LB Clay Swan (Jerome), LB Jake Hutton (Highland HS in Pocatello), and OL Seth Lamb (Madison HS in Rexburg)... USU CB Marquise Charles has a twin brother (Keith) who is on the Idaho roster... Several Aggie coaches have spent time in Idaho, including head coach Brent Guy (defensive coordinator at Boise State, 1998-2000), safeties coach Jeff Copp (defensive end at Boise State, 1998-2000, defensive ends coach at Idaho State, 2004), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Mark Johnson (defensive line coach at Boise State, 1998-99), and cornerbacks coach John Rushing (graduate assistant at Boise State, 1998-99)... Rushing was a cornerback at nearby Washington State from 1991-94... USU defensive coordinator Mark Johnson and UI defensive coordinator Jeff Mills worked together at Nevada in 2000 and 2001.
USU BESTS VS. UI -- Here is a look at some of the top USU statistical individual performances against the Vandals over the years: Louie Giammona ran for 247 yards in 1974, Melvin Blue ran for 224 yards in 1997, Jose Fuentes threw for 421 yards in 2000, Tony Adams threw for 406 yards in 1972 and Matt Sauk threw for 396 in 1997. Aaron Jones had 233 receiving yards in 2000, Bob Wicks 211 in 1971 and Tom Forzani 193 in 1972. Jim Turner's school record 100-yard fumble return came against the Vandals in 1962, while Overton Curtis had a 96-yard kickoff return in 1958, Jerry Arguello had a 77-yard punt in 1998 and Steve Mullins had a 70-yard punt in 1999 against Idaho. Team bests include 662 yards of total offense in 1997, which ranks third in school history and sa chool-best 501 rushing yards in 1960.
USU-UI LAST TIME -- Leon Jackson passed for 157 yards and ran for 74 more, but threw three interceptions in USU's 27-13 loss at Idaho on Oct. 1, 2005. Idaho struck first taking a 14-0 advantage into the lockerroom before USU rallied with consecutive third-quarter touchdowns by Kevin Robinson and Chris Forbes. Robinson's 10-yard reception pulled USU within 14-7. After Marquise Charles (whose twin brother plays at Idaho), recorded his first career interception, the Aggies scored on a 51-yard run by Forbes on the next play to pull within 14-13. An extra point that appeared good, was called no good and USU trailed 14-13 with 2:31 left in the third quarter. Idaho kicked consecutive field goals to pull ahead 20-13 with 2:38 remaining in the game. USU started its next drive at its own 20-yard line and Jackson connected on four straight passes to get the Aggies to the Idaho 40-yard line. After a dropped pass and a Jackson six-yard run to the Idaho 34, Jackson was picked off by Mike Anderson, who returned the ball 71 yards for the game's final score with just :45 left in the contest.
USU-UI LAST TIME IN LOGAN -- The USU offense committed five turnovers, including three on consecutive offensive plays, but the Aggie defense limited Idaho to 176 yards through three quarters and then made a final-minute stand as Utah State won its home and conference opener 14-7 on Sept. 11, 2004. QB Travis Cox threw two touchdown passes, but added two interceptions and a fumble on three straight plays and WR Kevin Robinson fumbled twice to thwart USU's offensive effort. The Aggies gained 272 yards, but turned it over three times in the red zone en route to just 14 points, its fewest in a victory since beating Ohio 5-0 in 1994. The USU defense was on the field for 36:57, but allowed Idaho just one score. On the final drive of the game, Idaho reached the USU 10-yard line, but on fourth and six from the 12, USU LB Jared Johnstun recorded a sack giving the Aggies the ball and the win with 1:15 remaining in the contest.
GUY VS. IDAHO -- Aggie head coach Brent Guy has coached against Idaho four times in his career with three meetings coming while he was an assistant at Boise State and one as head coach at USU. Here is a closer look:
1998 (BSU Assistant) - L 35-36 (OT) at Boise 1999 (BSU Assistant) - W 45-14 at Pullman, Wash. 2000 (BSU Assistant) - W 66-24 at Boise 2005 (USU Head Coach - L 13-27 at Moscow
CONFERENCE OPENERS -- USU had won four straight conference openers until losing 27-13 at Idaho last season. The Aggies have begun league play 1-0 six of the last eight times, with both losses coming to Idaho as the Vandals handed USU a 26-14 loss to open the 1998 Big West season.
SLOW SEASON STARTS NOT ALL BAD -- Utah State usually recovers from slow season starts. Here is a look at several times in the last 20 years the Aggies have started the year slowly, but responded well: 1987 - started 0-5 before winning five of six. 1989 - started 0-4 before winning four of next six. 1990 - started 1-4-1 before winning four straight. 1991 - started 0-5 before winning five of the next six. 1992 - started 0-3 before winning five of last eight. 1993 - started 1-5 before winning six straight. 1995 - started 0-5 before winning four of last six. 2000 - started 1-4 before winning four straight 2001 - started 0-5 before winning four straight 2002 - started 1-5 before winning three of last five
YOUNG STARTERS -- Here is a look at the classifications of Utah State's starters in the first four games with number of starters in that class with the number of combined starts in parentheses:
Fr. So. Jr. Sr. Offense 2 (4) 5 (10) 7 (22) 3 (8) Defense 1 (1) 8 (27) 3 (11) 2 (5)
NINE FRESHMEN HAVE PLAYED -- In the season opener against Wyoming, six freshmen, including three true freshmen, saw their first action in Aggie uniforms. The true freshmen included S James Brindley, LB Paul Igboeli and WR Xavier Bowman. The redshirt freshmen included DE Darby Golden, OT Taylor Wallace and DL Alan Bishop. Against Arkansas two more true freshmen saw their first action in DL Jon Overton and S Kejon Murphy. Against Utah redshirt freshman WR Nnamdi Gwacham was added to the list.
YOUTH MOVEMENT -- Last season in Brent Guy's first year as Utah State head coach, the Aggies played 20 freshmen, including 12 true freshmen. Of that group, 12 started at least one game. The 20 freshmen played ranked 11th nationally, while the 12 freshmen starters ranked third in the country behind only Western Michigan (17) and Cincinnati (13).
FIELD POSITION -- Utah State has lost the field position battle all season long (see page 15 for average starting position each game). The Aggies have started 32 of their 48 drives this year at or inside their own 20 yard line and have started on the opponents' side of the 50 just once. Meanwhile the opponents have started just 13 of their 47 drives at or inside their own 20 (resulting in three touchdowns), while starting 13 on the USU side of the field (resulting in four touchdowns and two field goals). The opponents are scoring on 40.4 percent of their drives with 15 touchdowns and four field goals. USU has had 34 of its 48 drives end in punts with eight more finishing with a turnover.
SCORING WOES -- Utah State has been shutout in three consecutive games for the first time in a year since 1937 (USU was also shutout in three straight games over the course of two seasons in 1939 and 1940). The only time USU has been shutout in more than three straight games was 1904 when the Aggies failed to score in six consecutive contests. OFFENSIVE NOTES -- USU produced its longest rush of the year against BYU last Saturday when Marcus Cross had a 29-yard run (previous long was 16 by Cross at Arkansas)... USU produced a season-high 122 passing yards against BYU... The Aggies had a season-high 70 plays and controlled the clock for 34:10 against the Cougars... USU has reached the red zone just four times this season and has failed to score every time... USU has produced just five "explosives" (plays over 20 yards) this season... TB Marcus Cross has rushed for 301 yards in four games almost matching USU's leading rushers the last two seasons (Chris Forbes 396 in 2004 and Ryan Bohm 340 last year)... USU's 93.5 passing yards per game are the fewest since the 1974 team averaged 73.8 per game... USU's 179.5 total offensive yards per game are the fewest since stats have been available since 1957 (lowest in that time was 192.0 in 1986)... USU's 98 total offensive yards against Utah were its fewest since recording just 82 yards against Illinois in 1989... USU has had each of its four interceptions thrown returned for touchdowns this year.
DEFENSIVE NOTES -- After allowing an average of 250.0 rushing yards in the first two games, the Aggies have allowed just 148.5 in the last two contests... USU forced three turnovers in the opener at Wyoming, but just three in the last three games combined... The opponents have scored on 13 of 17 trips into the red zone, including 10 touchdowns... The opponents have started 13 drives on USU's side of the 50-yard line, but have reached the endzone just four times (also had two field goals)... Three of USU's top four tacklers are sophomores.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES -- USU had a season-low six punts for a season-best 43.0 average against BYU... USU attempted its first field goal of the season against BYU on Saturday, but had the 33-yarder blocked. The Aggies also lined up for another attempt later in the game, but the snap went 32 yards backwards... USU's net punting has been 32.1 yards, while the opponent is averaging 39.1.
QUARTERBACK NOTE-ABLE -- Leon Jackson threw just six interceptions in nine starts last season, but has thrown four in four games this year... Three of Jackson's six picks last year came against Idaho... In four games, Jackson has completed 39 passes and punted 28 times... Jackson is the team's second leading rusher with 31 yards in four games... Bryan Black is five of seven in two appearances this year after entering the year eight of 21 in his career... Mike Affleck saw his first collegiate action against Utah and was 0 of two.
RUNNING BACK NOTE-ABLE -- Marcus Cross has become the first Aggie since David Fiefia in 2003 to record two 100-yard rushing games in a season (Fiefia had three)... Cross has produced two of USU's four 100-yard rushing games in the Aggies' last 28 games... Cross' 103 yards in his second game (at Arkansas) was the quickest an Aggie reached 100 since Roger Grant ran for 202 yards in his second game at USU in 1990... Cross has recorded 301 of USU's 344 rushing yards (87.5 percent)... Backup tailbacks Antraun McDaniel and Rob Sirstins have combined for 13 carries for 18 yards... Cross is the only Aggie player with at least one reception in all four games... Cross currently leads the team in both rushing and receiving and the only time in school history a player led the team in both for the year was Tom Larscheid in 1961... Cross led USU in rushing and receiving against BYU on Saturday, the first time an Aggie led in both in a single game since WR Kevin Robinson had team highs in both against San Jose State in the fourth game of last year... Cross has averaged 4.1 yards per carry in the two games he has at least 20 carries compared to 2.9 in the two games he has had less than 15 attempts.
WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END NOTE-ABLE -- USU's tight end/fullbacks made their first receptions of the year against BYU on Saturday as Jimmy Bohm and Rob Myers each made two catches... Eleven different players have USU's 44 receptions... Kevin Robinson has made at least two receptions in 20 of the last 21 games... Robinson's first career 100-yard game was against Idaho in 2004 when he had five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown as a freshman... Nnamdi Gwacham made his first collegiate appearance against Utah and responded with two receptions for 25 yards, including a 23-yarder... Gwacham, a Nigerian native, who moved to the USA in 1999, became an American citizen in August... Tarell Richards is coming off a career-best five reception game at BYU... USU has had a different leading receiver in each of the four games this year.
OFFENSIVE LINE NOTE-ABLE -- OG Pace Jorgensen has started a team-high tying 15 consecutive games (tied with LB Jake Hutton) and 20 total games in his career (second on the team to Terrance Washington - 21)... USU's starting tackles Shawn Murphy and Taylor Wallace are seeing their first collegiate action this year... Murphy is the son of former major leaguer Dale Murphy... OC Brent DeLadauranty had started four games in 2004, but none last season, while OG Ryan Tonnemacher had made three starts last season... OL Malik Cin made his first appearance of the season against Utah after returning from surgery on his Achilles tendon and then started at right tackle against BYU last week.
DEFENSIVE LINE NOTE-ABLE -- USU played nearly the entire BYU game without its usual starting defensive tackles as Frank Maile missed the game due to a hamstring injury, while E.J. Reid was injured in the first quarter and did not return... Reid had recorded a career-high seven tackles against Utah two weeks ago... Maile had made eight tackles in the first three games after entering the year with 13 career stops... Senior Kerry Shepherd made his first career start against BYU and responded with a career-high three tackles... Ben Childs had a career-best three tackles against BYU as well... Ben Calderwood has the team's only sack, which came at Arkansas... DE Bevan Howard had a season-high three tackles against Utah... Freshman Jon Overton recovered a fumble against Utah in his second collegiate game.
LINEBACKERS NOTE-ABLE -- USU has started four different players, all sophomores, at linebacker this season... Derrick Cumbee made his first collegiate start at BYU on Saturday and responded with a game-high and team season-best 11 tackles... Jake Hutton entered the BYU game leading the team with a 9.0 tackles per game average, but had just two stops against the Cougars... Hutton ranks second in the WAC and 11th in the NCAA in fumbles forced at 0.50 per game... At 5-7, Daryl Fields is the shortest linebacker in the country at the Division I level.
SECONDARY NOTE-ABLE -- CB Drew Pearson recorded his first career interception against BYU on Saturday... He also had a pass broken up and four tackles in the game... S Terrance Washington ranks third in the WAC and 18th in the NCAA with 1.50 passes defended per game... Washington is third on the team with 23 tackles, while also breaking up six passes and forcing one fumble... Of the eight Aggie secondary players with tackles this year, two are freshmen and three are sophomores... S Antonio Taylor has scored USU's only touchdown in four games with a 45-yard interception return for a score in the opener at Wyoming... Against Utah twin brothers Caleb and Josh Taylor started together for the first time (Caleb has started four games, while Josh has started five in their two-year careers).
SPECIALISTS NOTE-ABLE -- Leon Jackson is the only starting quarterback/punter in the country... Jackson has punted 28 times for a 39.2 average with four 50-plus yarders and seven inside the 20... His 39.2 average ranks 52nd in the NCAA... Jackson has improved his punting average in each game this year, with a best of 43.0 against BYU last Saturday... Kevin Robinson entered the year averaging 14.8 yards per punt return in his career, but has five returns for 10 yards this season... Justin Hamblin has attempted just one field goal this year, a blocked attempt against BYU.
USU NOTE-ABLE -- Only two Aggies have made more than four consecutive starts in OG Pace Jorgensen and LB Jake Hutton, who have each started in 15 straight games... Only 10 Aggies have made at least 10 career starts, led by S Terrance Washington (21).