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Utah State Film Study: What BYU can expect from the Aggies this week

Big game in Ogden this week.

NCAA Football: Utah State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

To help prepare for this week’s game against the Aggies, we decided to review some game film from Utah State’s last couple of matchups, specifically against Nevada and Air Force. Against the Wolfack, they were able to pull away with big plays on offense and consistent defense. The Aggies were then dominated by Air Force with their ball control and consistent ground game.

Here are a few things that we noticed from these two games.

It all starts with Jordan Love

Before the season started, a lot of Utah media members were quick to point out that the best quarterback in the state title shouldn’t belong to Tyler Huntley or Zach Wilson, but rather the 6’4” gunslinger Jordan Love.

In the video below you’ll see him work his RPO read to perfection. Before the snap it looks like he gets some help from the sideline with an adjustment. From there Love makes a quick read and a nice throw for an easy score. It’s a pretty simple play but Jordan looks very smooth a composed on such a quick play. If BYU lets him get in rhythm it could be a long day for the defense.

Be ready for big plays from the USU running backs

While the offense definitely runs through Jordan Love, it’s not all on his shoulders. Against Nevada both Gerold Bright and Jaylen Warren averaged 6+ yards per carry, contributing to the 244 yards that the Aggies gained on the ground. Based on how the BYU defense has faired vs the run this year I would suspect that Utah State will look to establish the run early.

In this clip we see that Gerold Bright breaks off a long touchdown run thanks to some solid blocking up front and on the edge. BYU will need to limit these types of big plays if they want to take back the wagon wheel.

BYU should see (and beat) USU’s man coverage.

Unless USU defensive coordinator (and former Cougar) Justin Ena decides to really shake things up, BYU will have some opportunities to face man coverage this week. The coverages will vary, but based on what they’ve shown versus other teams this year there will be certain downs where the Aggies go man. When those opportunities are presented, BYU need to capitalize.

On their first drive, Nevada was able to connect on two long pass plays against tight man coverage from the Aggies. BYU’s wide receivers aren’t the fastest group but the should be able to get some separation to connect on a long pass play. We’ve seen Dax Milne and Talon Shumway catch some deep passes in the last two games. Hopefully they’ll be able to do the same this week.

BYU needs to be smart on special teams

Utah State was able to pull away in the first half with a nice lead thanks to some big plays on special teams. In addition to the 100-yard touchdown return on a kickoff, the Aggies were able to pin Nevada down on their own one yard line (which resulted in a safety on the next play). BYU can’t have another game like they did against South Florida where they let a couple of special team blunders ruin the game.

Run the rock = win the game

I didn’t pull any specific clips from the Air Force game because it was a long slog and the most important thing gleaned from the game won’t be seen on film. This matchup between Utah State vs AFA was wild on multiple levels. First, there is one of the most lopsided time of possession stats I’ve ever seen. USU possessed the ball for 14:17 and Air Force hogged it for 45:43. It’s not just the time of possession that shocked me but the number of possessions. The week previous, Utah State had 18 offensive possessions vs Nevada. Against Air Force they only had 9. The Falcons were able to use their long drives to keep the ball away from Utah State.

But it wasn’t just Air Force and their triple option that allowed them to keep the ball the whole game. All but one of Utah State’s offensive possessions were shorter than two minutes. The Aggies definitely have some big play ability but they can also stall out quickly. Even against Nevada, they had eight possessions that were shorter than two minutes and went less than 15 yards. BYU doesn’t need to run the option to win this game, but they can help their defense with some long sustaining drives that limit the number of opportunities that Utah State has on offense.