Logan • The confidence radiating from Utah State’s defensive line might be a little surprising after a few days of watching film of Colorado State’s running game.
But the Aggies’ 20th-ranked run defense is nothing if not stoic, even going into a showdown against the country’s hottest back, Rams sophomore Kapri Bibbs.
Colorado Stateat Utah StateSaturday, 1:30 p.m.
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"He does a great job of finding those holes, and he hits it hard," defensive line coach Frank Maile said. "He’s going to be a challenge this weekend, and our guys know it. The great thing about our defense and our kids is they’re always up for the challenge."
The numbers tell it all: Bibbs has run for 603 yards and 10 touchdowns in his last two games, and he now leads the country in rushing scores. His fast-moving legs have rejuvenated the Rams, who have crawled back from 2-4 to being one win away from bowl eligibility.
No, the Aggies haven’t ignored the threat of Bibbs. They just believe deeply that the run defense will prevail in a match-up of strength against strength.
"I see it as more of a challenge and an opportunity to prove that we can stop the run," junior defensive end B.J. Larsen said. "We’ve done it in the past, and we plan on doing it this week as well."
Utah State has some numbers in its favor as well: The Aggies have allowed only six runs of 20 yards or longer this season and only eight rushing touchdowns, with most of those eight coming on runs inside the 5. Only two opposing running backs have gone over the century mark this year, and no opposing team has run for 200 yards this season.
One of the Aggies’ biggest concerns is play-action, which Colorado State has used to its advantage recently thanks to Bibbs’ success on the ground. Maile said his linemen will have to be disciplined and make quick reads on run or pass to slow down the Rams’ attack.
"Our corners and DBs have done a great job of buying us time to get to the QB," he said. "That’s what I foresee for Saturday: those guys doing what they do, covering guys up and giving us time back there."
They’re from different teams, but Tyler Larsen and Weston Richburg have a way of sticking together.
At least when it comes to NFL Draft lists.
Utah State’s senior center and Colorado State’s senior center often are back-to-back in lists of the top five 2014 pro center prospects, drawing comparisons to each other whether they like it or not.
Larsen, the Aggies’ active leader in career starts, is hoping to realize his NFL dreams with strong performances to finish the season. And having one of his chief competing prospects on the same field — albeit not at the same time — is motivation.
"I’m pressing for the NFL next year, and he’s one of the top centers, and I am too," Larsen said. "Bringing up the competition level a little more, being able to compete with the guys out there on the field, it’s more exciting than anything."
Linebacker Jake Doughty has been named a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, an annual honor given to the nation’s top senior who started as a walk-on. Utah State has had a Burlsworth finalist in each of the last four seasons. ... Utah State’s series with Colorado State is the third-most played in school history. The last time the Aggies won in Logan was Sept. 22, 1979.
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