Utah State receivers adapting without Travis Reynolds
Logan • The receivers were the last intact offensive position group, but as things have gone for Utah State this year, it couldn't last.
Travis Reynolds was over the 800-yard mark and well on his way to 1000 for the season when he went down with a knee injury against Colorado State. Now the wideout group is trying to find ways to replace his production and leadership on the field.
It's no easy task.
"It hurts to lose a guy who is your leading producer, and a guy Darell [Garretson] had gained a lot of confidence and trust in," offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven said. "We've had to do that all year, all over the offense: Get the next man up and move forward."
After eclipsing 100 yards in three of his previous four games before the Rams, Reynolds landed awkwardly going for a deep ball and did not return. Coaches' and players' comments, as well as Reynolds' own social media, have cast doubt that he'll be back this year.
Reynolds absence has been felt in the deep throwing game, where he had become Garretson's most reliable target. In his three 100-yard games, he had caught passes of 40, 39, and 29 yards for each game-long reception. But it has also been tough for the receivers: Reynolds is a captain and a positive voice in the receiving corps. The Aggies are concentrated on playing for him this week, they said.
"I just feel like he worked hard," sophomore Jojo Natson said. "It's sad to see him go down like because he's been having a good season. I just feel like the whole team, as far as the receiving group, we have to put him on our back and keep him in mind."
Utah State used Reynolds in a variety of spots in their offense, so the team will likely fill those roles with more than one man. Brandon Swindall and Ronald Butler are trying to establish themselves as vertical threats, while Natson and Shaan Johnson will need to replace some of Reynolds' production when he lined up in the slot.
Garretson's production, affected by a number of factors including Reynolds, has dipped in the past two weeks: He's thrown for 190 yards in two games combined after throwing for 298 against UNLV. The receivers feel some accountability for that, Natson said. But they'll look to get going again this week, especially down the field after watching Fresno State's defense cede 62 points last week.
"As far as getting a groove on the deep ball, I feel like it's going to be good week," Natson said. "We're going to give them all we got."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon