Knoxville, Tenn. • Utah State’s embarrassing 38-7 loss at the hands of the Tennessee Vols was the kind of demoralizing defeat teams never want to relive. The Aggies certainly have no plans to revisit the nightmare that took place in Neyland Stadium Sunday.
To them, their season-opening loss to the Vols is over and done with and it’s time to move on to Idaho State.
Idaho State at Utah StateSaturday, 6 p.m. MDT
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Utah State offensive lineman Kevin Whimpey said the Aggies had to have a short memory and show the resilience they showed last year.
"We have to be positive," he said.
But doing so might be easier said than done after such a lopsided outcome. Utah State coach Matt Wells said he wasn’t worried that his team may let the loss linger and affect their preparations for the home opener against Idaho State, but rarely in recent seasons have the Aggies felt as outplayed as they did against the Vols.
As linebacker Nick Vigil put it, the Aggies were beaten in every phase of the game.
"They were just better everywhere," he said.
It was a humbling experience for a program proud of its ability to play well in big games.
Now the Aggies must re-set their goals from using the opener to make a national statement that they’ve truly arrived to being a BCS-caliber team to something more realistic, like winning the Mountain West.
"We have enough talent in there to go compete for the Mountain West and that’s exactly what we still intend to do," Wells said. "That’s a bunch that will get the ship righted, trust me, and we’ll stick together."
The Aggies’ biggest concern going into the opener was the play of the offensive line with Whimpey being the only returning starter. Their concerns proved valid as quarterback Chuckie Keeton was under consistent pressure against the Vols.
He was sacked once and threw two interceptions. He did have one 11-yard, making-something-out-of-nothing run and he threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Sharp in the fourth quarter, but otherwise the Aggies’ offense was surprisingly inept against an inexperienced Vols’ defensive line.
"There were times when they did not hold up whether it was pass or in the run game," Wells admitted of the offensive line. "That’ll continue to be a work in progress."
The Aggies felt better about their defense even though it gave up 38 points. The most concerning matter of business coming out of the game is the health of linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who left the game early with a knee injury and limped to the locker room after the game.
"He’s a big part of our team," Wells said. "Any time a guy goes down like that, it gives another guy an opportunity to step up and rally around it. There’s the first piece of adversity we’ve faced this year. So now, how long is he out and how will we respond as a defense and as a team, we’ll see."
Responding to adversity, it seems to be the theme of the week for the Aggies.
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