Monday, February 13, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Utah State Aggies

2016 was a season of recurrent dominance on one side (San Diego State), and a resurgence on the other (Wyoming). The strength of the MWC was once again on the Mountain Division side of the league, as both Boise State and Air Force finished with 10 wins after bowl season was over with, and New Mexico finished with 9 wins. Wyoming, finished with 8 after being one of the worst programs in America in recent seasons. The Cowboys made it to the MWC title game after holding off charges from both Boise State and New Mexico, and while the season could have finished better for the Cowboys, the surge in success in Laramie had to be recognized as a huge move forward for Craig Bohl and his Cowboy program. In the West, Hawaii showed signs of life under Nick Rolovich, but the rest of the division, not including San Diego State, tanked once again, that side of the league will have 3 new head coaches in 2017. Here is a look back at the season that was in 2016.

Utah State Aggies
3-9 (1-7)

2016 Schedule
Beat Weber State 45-6
Lost to USC 45-7
Beat Arkansas State 34-20
Lost to Air Force 27-20
Lost to Boise State 21-10
Lost to Colorado State 31-24
Beat Fresno State 38-20
Lost to San Diego State 40-13
Lost to Wyoming 52-28
Lost to New Mexico 24-21
Lost to Nevada 38-37
Lost to BYU 28-10

MVP Offense: None
It takes a ton for me not to find some shining light on any given team, but the 2016 USU offense was full of unfulfilling performances across the board. The Aggies scored just 23.9 points per game, and scored 21 points or less 7 times during the season, and scored 13 points or less 5 times. This was not a unit akin to making big plays or carrying football games. The Aggies averaged 170.5 yards per game rusing, but not one back averaged more than 12.3 carries per game, and that is pathetic for a team not known to be a triple option offense that employs many different personnel options. That was not the case here. The staff needs to find more direction and commitment to one or two top backs moving forward. 
MVP Defense: LB Anthony Williams
Williams did some things nicely for the Aggies, but even he lacked in some areas for a unit that allowed 29.3 points per game. Williams finished with 96 tackles on the season, averaging 8 per game. He also recorded 6.5 TFLs.  The defense allowed 203.33 yards rushing per game, but was more solid against the pass, allowing just 176 yards per game there. 
Other of Note: The Aggies were just flat across the board, and the team really lacked energy all season long. After a 2-1 start, all of the wheels just fell off completely, and the wagon went into a ditch, as USU finished the season 1-7 in the final two months. Kent Myers started all 12 games at QB, but the junio0r mostly played like he had never seen the field before, passing for just 2389 yards and 10 scores to 8 INTs. Tonny Lindsey was the leading rusher, but ran for just 763 yards and 6 scores. Kent Myers was the second leading rusher with 449 yards, and that is a bad sign. Only 4 receivers caught more than 20 passes all season. 
Defensively, the effort was certainly there against the pass, but teams were able to run at will against the Aggies. The second leading tackler had 33 fewer tackles than Williams, and again, that is another bad sign that nobody was stepping up. 
Coach Matt Wells was a rising star just two years ago, but after 2016, that star is fading fast.
Best Win: Arkansas State 34-20
It is probably cruel to say, but when your strongest win is coming against a Sun Belt team, you are having a bad season. The only win in league play came against Fresno State, and almost everyone beat them in 2016.
Worst Loss: Nevada 38-37
The one thing that can be said is that the schedule was rather strong in 2016. Nevada was the only team that beat Utah State that did not go bowling after the season. Even then, the loss was by a single point. Any bounce any other way would have turned the tide. 
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/1 at Wisconsin, 9/9 Idaho State, 9/16 at Wake Forest, 9/29 BYU
This non con schedule is brutal for the Aggies, as the only game you can lock in for a win is the Idaho State game. Wake Forest should have the Aggies showing a chance, but BYU and Wisconsin are losses right now. 

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