Injuries leave the Aggies in a bind
Injuries happen. Just not usually as frequently as they have at Utah State this season.
It was supposed to be a bounce-back year - it was, even, for the first half of the season. But injuries to Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed now make the chances for a WAC title appear quite slim.
Great players. Great leaders. You could go on.
But the question now becomes how Utah State fills that gap. Only eight healthy players who have already seen action. With that kind of depth - missing three guys who started in the season opener - it will be a challenge to win games.
Ben Clifford and Marvin Jean could probably start the rest of the year. Matt Lopez, Jordan Stone and TeNale Roland will get a lot more minutes. Spencer Butterfield might not come off the court.
Utah State has not yet gone outside those eight to address their health issues. Other options could be to bring in Quinn Taylor, who has been redshirting prior to his LDS Church Mission. The Aggies could also put in a practice squad player.
Probably the main reason Utah State hasn't done those things yet is because it's unclear if that will actually help win games. Throwing a lot of depth at opposing teams won't help if their bench is better than Utah State's bench. Those options may not be DI-ready.
It will be tough. Medlin and Reed accounted for a large chunk of the Aggies' minutes and points. That will be extremely difficult to replace, given the scoring options that will come in their stead.
The Aggies also have to be cautious. The injuries are already devastating, but with everyone playing more minutes, it could increase the potential for more - as unbelievable as that sounds. Bodies wear down, and trying to push this roster too hard could result in more.
Even weathering two losses, Utah State is in decent conference position at 5-2 in the WAC. But the potential for struggles to snowball is discouraging, especially with Louisiana Tech coming to town on Saturday. The momentum swing could hurt.
Utah State isn't done. Jarred Shaw is still on the floor, now rounded up to the team's best player. Marcel Davis has struggled lately, but the potential is there for him to get more involved. Butterfield and Jean are hard-nosed shooters who can keep games close with their 3-pointers. Utah State still has a height advantage.
But no doubt, the Aggies are now underdogs. You can't subtract two great players and still play at the same level. No one can, even with the best coaching in the world. Utah State will try to play with great effort consistently, but there will be nights when playing hard still can't win.
It's a pity that Sean Harris and Danny Berger went down with injuries. It's a pity that Riley Bradshaw and Quincy Bair left.
Utah State could really use them right now.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon