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Utah State football: Aggies on a roll after weathering adversity

Published November 3, 2013 8:27 pm

Utah State football • Back-to-back lopsided wins keep USU in Mountain West race.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan •Â Travis Reynolds couldn't pinpoint what exactly made him such a target for Hawaii's defenders.

Early on in Saturday's game, Utah State's senior wideout was struck in his helmet, drawing a targeting call and ejection for a Rainbow Warriors defensive back. Later, he got tackled well out of bounds, netting another flag for Hawaii.

He wasn't sure why all the shots were coming, but he was ready for more, he said.

"It got me fired up, but I didn't feel it," Reynolds said. "I told him to get big out there. You've got to hit me hard. I didn't feel it, so I'll just keep playing ball."

This season, the Aggies (5-4, 4-1) have taken shots of their own: Season-ending injuries to four offensive starters. Tough back-to-back losses to BYU and Boise State at home.

If there was a message to be drawn out of a 47-10 thrashing of Hawaii on Saturday it was this: Utah State has taken its shots, but it is still one of the upper-crust programs in the Mountain West.

The Aggies pushed that point with authority in front of the assembled crowd of 21,428. Freshman quarterback Darell Garretson flashed brilliant potential in his second start. The team's offensive line ground down Hawaii's hapless defense. Utah State's own D smothered any attempt at a comeback.

The Aggies have got different pieces in different roles, but they're not dead yet.

"I think it comes down to your character — the way you act, the way you train," coach Matt Wells said. "When it's tough times, I think the character of people comes out. It's easy to practice hard and play hard when things are going good, but when you face some adversity, that's when you find out your mettle."

A crushing loss to the Broncos seemed to put Utah State's mettle in doubt. Losing quarterback Chuckie Keeton seemed to leave a crater in the heart of the offense.

But recent weeks have offered hopeful signs for the Aggie faithful. Back-to-back wins of 35 points or more, even against below-average teams, have reestablished Utah State as a team to beat. If Boise State slips up and the Aggies can win their last three games, they can still go to the Mountain West championship.

The season has taught Utah State not to take that challenge lightly. A road game at UNLV (5-4, 3-2) lies ahead, and the Rebels are experiencing a surprising resurgence in the conference, looking to go to their first bowl since 2000.

Utah State's program has been through the years of bowl-less anguish, but has seemingly proved that it's out of the woods these past two weeks. The Aggies' senior class has won 27 games in the past four years, a program record, and they plan to keep building on that success.

No matter who can suit up for them.

"This team is not about one person," Reynolds said. "We have other people who can come in and fill spots. A lot of people know that now." —

Utah State at UNLV

P Saturday, 6 p.m.

TV • ESPNU —

Utah State finishing out regular season

A look at the Aggies' final three opponents:

Saturday • UNLV (5-4, 3-2)

Nov. 23 • Colorado State (4-5, 2-2)

Nov. 30 • Wyoming (4-4, 2-2)