What Aggies fans will remember from 2013 new conference, injuries, bowl win and more
Counting down the hours until 2014, everything seems ahead of us: new resolutions, new goals, new opportunities. It's easy to get caught up in what the new year will bring.
But what about 2013? How will we remember this past year? If you're a Utah State sports fan, there's plenty to put in your scrapbook.
Here's how I see Aggies everywhere remembering 2013:
A new conference, a new challenge • It was the year of the Mountain West. Utah State joined its newest conference on July 1, and for many people, it couldn't have come soon enough. 2013 saw most of the school's team's excel in Mountain West play. The Matt Wells-led football team won its division, the soccer team made a deep run in the conference tournament, and the volleyball team finished third in the standings. Men's and women's basketball have started their first Mountain West seasons, but it remains to be seen if they can compete at the top of the league. Increased television exposure was one of the big spoils of the new conference, and increased revenues should be next.
Injuries galore • In 2014, the Aggies might want to coat their stars in bubble wrap. Injuries devastated a number of Utah State's squads. Early in the year, it was basketball, as Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed were lost for the season in the same game. The Aggies ended up losing some of the most starts in the nation, and limped to a postseason-less finish. The football team had many of the same problems, losing five offensive starters including star quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Those Aggies had more success, plugging in back-ups to finish the season 6-1.
A big bowl win • What Wells called a "signature" win should be remembered for a long time. Against the No. 24-ranked Huskies, the Aggies showed up with brute force on the defensive side. Except for two drives, Heisman finalish Jordan Lynch had a lot of trouble finding room to run or throwing outlets downfield. Utah State, led by Brian Suite, Jake Doughty and a host of other leaders, proved its legitimacy on defense, then did just enough at the finish to seal an exciting result on national television. Winning back-to-back bowl games has never been done at Utah State before, but the bar has now been reset.
So long, seniors • Some of the all-time greats played their final games for Utah State this year. Women's basketball said farewell to all-time leading scorer Devyn Christensen, and men's basketball graduated Reed after a short but highlight-filled career. Soccer standouts including Jen Flynn and Mari Miyashiro graduated after a strong first year in the Mountain West. The football team's senior class won 31 games in the last four years, a program best. All-American honorees Tyler Larsen and Nevin Lawson have exausted their eligibility, as have all-conference honorees Jake Doughty, A.J. Pataiali'i, Joey DeMartino, Jamie Markosian, Maurice Alexander and Eric Schultz - all very tough players to replace.
What might 2014 bring? Let's find out together.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon