Utah State football: Bye week is perfect timing for Aggies
With the timing of road games and other factors, there have been seasons where the schedule hasn't been kind to Utah State.
This is not one of those examples.
The Aggies played 10 consecutive games to begin 2012. That's allowed USU to focus on Louisiana Tech for 14 straight days. The showdown that will likely decide the Western Athletic Conference title will be played on Saturday afternoon. A bye week at just the right time has USU coach Gary Andersen a happy man.
"Bottom line, this week has afforded us a little more time to formulate a game plan, and we need all the time we can get," Andersen said. "We have to figure out a way to best teach our kids how to scheme for the Bulldogs. This is one of the best football teams in the country that we're playing. They score 50 points a week."
Preparing for Louisiana Tech means adjusting to pace. The Bulldogs will run a faster offense than anyone Utah State has faced this season. It means preparing for Quinton Patton, the Bulldogs' senior wide receiver who has been the best player in the WAC this season.
It means preparing for an offense that treats football like a track meet. And lastly, it means dealing with the heat and humidity that resides in the deep South.
USU knows this won't be easy. But a win would probably mean a national ranking for the Aggies for the first time in more than 40 years and the WAC title in what's likely the final year of football for the conference.
In that sense, Andersen's happy with the timing of the bye week. The USU players practiced Monday through Wednesday of last week, and then received a three-day weekend. The team will begin firm preparation Monday morning.
Utah State is healthy for the first time in a while. Backup running back Joe Hill has recovered from a lingering ankle injury, and the little scrapes and bruises that pile up over the course of a season have subsided.
"I commend the kids for being focused and for taking each opponent one game and one week at a time," Andersen said. "We've had Louisiana Tech on our minds from a distance, but we've never gotten too far ahead of ourselves. We've taken care of business, and that's helped us into the position we have right now."
Andersen knows it will be difficult to stop the Bulldogs, even with the top defense in the league. But the Aggies plan on defending with their offense. They want long drives that end in touchdowns and take time off the clock, keeping Louisiana Tech off the field.
Accomplishing that could net Utah State one of its biggest wins in school history.
Utah State at Louisiana Tech
P Saturday, 2 p.m.
Internet • ESPN3