Aggies aim to rebound from 2016, upset UW

Friday night, Utah State will attempt to bounce back from five straight losses that capped a disappointing 3-9 record last season. The Aggies were winless on the road, and only 1-7 in Mountain West Conference play. Five years after replacing Wisconsin-bound Gary Andersen, head coach Matt Wells’ team will enter Camp Randall seeking its fourth victory over a top-25 opponent in his four-year head coaching tenure. The Aggies’ last upset came in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, when Utah State recorded a 21-14 victory over No. 24 Northern Illinois.

Offensively, senior running back Tonny Lindsey Jr. will attempt to fill the shoes of seventh-round Packers draft pick Devante Mays, while competing for snaps with fellow senior LaJuan Hunt. Lindsey racked up 763 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards per carry through his 2016 campaign. Three-year starting quarterback, senior Kent Myers has played in 28 games and started 25 during his Utah State career. He is fourth all-time in school history in completion percentage (.605), is sixth all-time in total offense (5,963 yards), is tied for eighth all-time with 31 career touchdown passes and is ninth all-time in career passing yards (4,848), career completions (411) and career pass attempts (679). Myers will be looking to throw the ball downfield to junior wideout Ron’quavion Tarver, who is Utah State’s most imposing and seasoned deep threat. Tarver, at 6’3, had 46 receptions for 602 yards and three touchdowns last season.

USU lost all four of its 2016 tight ends, and as a result, will look to converted quarterback, senior Damion Hobbs, and redshirt freshman Dax Raymond to fill the void. Three All-Mountain West offensive line starters also left the Aggies since last season, as senior tackle Preston Brooksby and junior guard K.J. Uluave are the only returning starters. Brooksby played in all 12 games last season, making 11 starts, while Uluave made only four starts.

A deep and experienced secondary anchors the Aggie defense. Senior safety Dallin Leavitt led the 2016 team with three interceptions and was second in tackles with 57, while junior safeties Gaje Ferguson, who transferred from BYU, and Jontrell Rocquemore combined for 79 tackles. The defensive line will be a weak point for USU, as three starters and four letterwinners from last year’s unit graduated. Senior defensive end Ian Togiai is the only returning starter and totaled 38 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks last year. Senior Alex Huerta and junior Derek Larsen are the only two returning starting linebackers for the Aggies. Huerta totaled 45 tackles with two for loss, while Larsen contributed 42 tackles including 1.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.

Special teams for Utah State will look similar to last season’s campaign as starters sophomore kicker Dominik Eberle and junior punter Aaron Dalton both return.

The last time the Aggies faced the Badgers in 2012, Wisconsin emerged with a hard- fought 16-14 home victory as USU kicker Josh Thompson missed a field goal wide right with six seconds remaining. This Utah State team, however, does not have the weapons that the 2012 USU team did in 2012, and will have a much more difficult battle ahead when they travel into Camp Randall for the first game of the season.

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