Gary Andersen approaches bowl week as a reward for a successful season.
The Utah State coach wants his players to have fun — but also realize that winning is what got them to this point, and prepare accordingly. With the Aggies’ game against Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl still more than a week away, players are anxious to truly get started with the process.
Utah State is in the midst of a normal practice week, but until the team heads to Boise on Tuesday, the atmosphere won’t truly sink in. This stretch in many ways rivals the dog days of training camp in August, waiting for the season opener.
“Guys have some anxiety because we’re waiting for the game to get here,” senior cornerback Will Davis said. “We’ve been off for a few weeks; we know who we’re playing. So we just really want to get out there and play.”
More than anything, players have talked among themselves about focus. Last year, USU was happy to be playing in the postseason. This time around, the Aggies want a win.
Last year, Utah State hoped it could be competitive against a good Ohio team that was the best squad in the Mid-American Conference. This season, the Aggies believe they can play with almost any team in the country — including the Rockets, who are arguably the third-best team in the MAC this season.
“We want to win; we don’t just want to be there, man,” wide receiver Matt Austin said. “We know that we still have a lot left to accomplish with this season. I think we were a little too satisfied last year, and we aren’t going to make that mistake again.”
Utah State took time off last week to heal up. And a lot of injuries have gotten better. One key Aggie — senior safety McKade Brady — is still questionable for next week while he nurses a broken jaw. But Andersen says he has progressed nicely and it looks more and more like USU’s defensive captain will be available to play.
The Aggies have practiced every day this week, although workouts are a bit shorter, earlier in the afternoon and less physical than during the regular season. Once USU goes to Boise next week, the Aggies will start walking through what they expect from Toledo.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
P Utah State vs. Toledo
Saturday, Dec. 15,2:30 p.m. TV • ESPN