Utah State secondary confident headed into San Jose State
A few days removed from dropping a game at the Coliseum, corner back Tay Glover-Wright was looking ahead. And looking up.
The Aggies secondary, which struggled in the season opener, had taken a lot of positives in a match-up with the Trojans. After watching some film, Glover-Wright said he had much to feel confident about.
"It's my first year [as starting corner], and I feel like the sky could be the limit," he said after practice this week. "I feel like I don't have any ceiling. Going against those guys, it gives you confidence week after week."
Such talk may seem a bit optimistic after a loss, but there's no doubt Utah State's secondary has looked better since Week 1, when Travis Wilson passed for a 302 yards and flags littered the field. Allowing only 149 passing yards last week against a talented group of receivers - including Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee - has boosted the last line of the Aggies' defense.
Beyond simply being more confident, corner Nevin Lawson said he's seen improvement in the unit's communication. Although playing Air Force and Weber State has enhanced Utah State's No. 12 pass defense ranking, the Aggies say their play is more reflective of the disciplined unit they were expected to be this year.
Consistency might be the key here: Against USC, the Aggies knew what kind of offense to expect.
"Playing against Air Force I felt like our secondary didn't have very good communication in the back-end as far as our assignments, but their offense is very complicated," he said. "Now that we're able to play a game against a regular offense we really played well as far as communicating our assignments and audibling to the right plays."
The secondary's run of solid play comes at a fortuitous time for the Aggies, who go into Spartan Stadium to face the nation's No. 24 passing offense. NFL scouts have circled David Fales as a potential early pick in next year's NFL Draft, citing his size, arm strength and accuracy.
He was a standout counselor this year at Elite 11 camp, which also had Heisman hopefuls Teddy Bridgewaer, Tajh Boyd and last year's winner Johnny Manziel. San Jose State's offense has been tuned to the strengths Fales built as a junior college player, featuring more quick reads.
The Spartans will likely be without Noel Grigsby, as the San Jose Mercury-News has reported this week. But the Aggies still face an uphill battle in stopping Chandler Jones, who is sixth in the nation in receiving yards per game (123.3 ypg). Billy Freeman and Jabari Carr also stick out as possible threats in the passing game. Even without Grigsby, San Jose State passed for 439 yards last week.
"They all can play," Glover-Wright said. "They all can move. We're up to the challenge. It's a passing offense, so our defense will be tested."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon