Utah State - Notes And Thoughts On The Aggie Offense

Utah State - Notes And Thoughts On The Aggie Offense

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Utah State - Notes And Thoughts On The Aggie Offense

Michigan State kicks off the 2018 season with a visit from Utah State of the Mountain West. What should the Spartans expect from the Aggie offense on Friday night at Spartan Stadium?

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A year ago, Utah State’s Jordan Love was a fresh-faced redshirt freshman that was a backup to senior Kent Myers.

By the middle of the season, the rangy Love had taken over as the starter and went 3-3 over the remainder of the campaign for the Aggies.

Now, Love – 6’4″ and 225 pounds – is the clear cut leader at quarterback.

“He’s a completely different guy than when we started camp last year,” said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Yost. “You get the feeling that this is his team. It’s his group. He takes responsibility for not just himself but the offense. That’s what the maturation of a quarterback is. He doesn’t evaluate himself on, ‘Hey, I had a good day.’ It’s we had a good day.”

Last season Love completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 1,631 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions to finish with a QB rating of 119.3.

Love has guys to throw the ball to.

All three of Utah State’s top receivers return from last season, including Ron’quavion Tarver (6’3″, 215 pounds) and preseason All-Mountain West tight end Dax Raymond (6’5″, 250 pounds).

When it comes to running the ball, Utah State has a few more question marks.

Last year’s two leading rushers – LaJuan Hunt and the former quarterback, Myers – have both moved on.

The two tailbacks who have been fighting for the starting position are converted 5’9″, 194 pound wide receiver Gerold Bright and Junior College transfer Darwin Thompson who goes 5’8″ and 200 pounds.

Whichever of these two gets most of the carries – and maybe they’ll split the load – one thing is evident: Michigan State isn’t going up against a Ron Dayne-sized back.

However, the Aggies more than make up for any size issues with their veteran offensive line.

All five of these monsters are returning starters – and four of them are seniors:

Senior tackle Roman Andrus – 6’4, 310 pounds.

Senior guard Rob Castaneda – 6’4″, 305 pounds.

Senior center Quin Ficklin – 6’2″, 300 pounds.

Junior guard Moroni Iniguez – 6’2″, 320 pounds.

Senior tackle Sean Taylor – 6’5″, 300 pounds.

That’s not your third cousin’s second wife’s Mountain West offensive line.

That looks like a George Perles-era offensive line that went head-to-head with the lines that Schembechler and Holtz used to crank out every year.

Still, when we look at the Aggies’ statistical performances from 2017, the veteran makeup of the offensive line shouldn’t strike fear into the Spartans.

Here’s how Utah State fared across the board on offense last season in the Mountain West:

  • Total Offense – 5th overall.
  • Scoring Offense – 30.2 points per game; 5th in the Mountain West.
  • Rushing Offense – 171.4 yards per game; 24 touchdowns; 6th in the Mountain West.
  • Passing Offense – 2,938 total yards; 226 yards per game; completion percentage, 58%; 17 touchdowns; 5th in the Mountain West.
  • Time of Possession – 26:13 per game; forget the Mountain West, that was “good” for 126th in the nation.

That last stat – that might say it all as Michigan State prepares for this matchup.

Utah State had a very difficult time sustaining drives in 2017.

Michigan State’s front seven – with the help, of course, of a very tough back end – should be able to shut down any sort of rushing attack that Utah State would hope to assemble.

And if Michigan State wants to compete for the Big Ten Championship and beyond, it can’t let a team like Utah State breathe in the trenches.

Can Michigan State limit Utah State’s to a minimal amount of big plays?

Can Michigan State shut it down on 3rd down situations and not bail out an offense that doesn’t really appear to have an identity?

Can Michigan State get to Utah State’s sophomore quarterback and hassle him or, better yet, put him on the ground early?

It would seem that the Spartans are too tough in the interior to allow Utah State’s pedestrian running game – which will feature one and/or two brand new, small ball carriers – to put together a powerful performance over the full course of the night.

Can Utah State find a way to come up with seven or ten “big plays” against a veteran defense that’s probably ready to run through a wall after a month of preseason camp?

If Michigan State’s defense shows up and does what it’s supposed to do – and if can limit Utah State to just a few big plays that are bound to happen – folks should have a pleasant night along the banks of the Red Cedar and be able to get on with their Labor Day Weekend with a spring in their step.

 

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