Logan • With a little over 10-and-a-half minutes to go, Utah State lined up for a punt on 4th and 11 against USC. D.J. Tialavea took the snap and rolled out for a pass on the fake, and it fell incomplete.
A lot of people seemed to have the same reaction: What was that?
In execution, it certainly didn't look that clean. Tialavea's pass went long, and he was under pressure by the Trojans' punt team. It gave them the ball at the Aggies' 34, and denied them a chance to take advantage of a possible field position swing if they had punted.
Ultimately, field position was all it costed Utah State: USC went three-and-out. But some Aggies fans were not happy with the call.
On Monday, Matt Wells talked about it, along with some of the struggles on special teams. I thought it would be fair to run this in full:
We struggled a little bit punting. The wind was swirling and we weren't hitting it real well. We've got to hit it a little better. A 12-yard punt gives them a field goal and it's a field goal ball game. That was part of the reason I declined the running into the kicker because it was finally on their side of the 50, it was a little bit longer field for them. So yeah, that played a part. When you're down with nine minutes left in the game and we were bogging down on offense, I thought we needed a little bit of juice and a little bit of spark. I thought schematically it was there and ultimately it wasn't for whatever reasons.
It seems Utah State identified a special teams weakness they thought they could exploit, Wells felt the team could use some energy because the offense wasn't going anywhere, so he made the call. It didn't work.
Sometimes it takes a risk to win a tight game. If it does work, it's a gutsy move in the fourth quarter. Since it didn't, it didn't look as great.
Wells didn't question his own decision there, at least openly. The first-year coach has a reputation as an Xs and Os junkie, so there's a good chance he has some other ideas up his sleeve if it he thinks it can give the Aggies an edge. If he runs a trick play with success later in the season, it might help some folks forget the miscue at the Coliseum.
— Kyle Goon
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