Logan • It has been long enough since Utah State last faced Wake Forest that Aggies coach Matt Wells can justifiably say the previous encounter has almost no bearing on the current one.
The memories are still there from USU’s 36-24 victory over the Demon Deacons in 2014, but only a small percentage of the participants are still around from that day.
“We only have three guys that played in that game,” Wells said. “That was a great win for us. It was a tough, hard-fought battle and a really close game.”
USU travels to Winston-Salem, N.C., for a Saturday rematch with the Deacons that kicks off at 1 p.m. And Wells says this Wake Forest team will not be confused with the team the Aggies beat three years ago.
The Deacons finished 3-9 in 2014, and 2015 as well, but they improved to 7-6 last season beat Temple 34-26 in the Military Bowl. The momentum has continued. Wake Forest is 2-0 this season.
Last week, in its ACC opener, Wake Forest dumped Boston College 34-10 in Massachusetts.
“You see them building a program and, last year, they get a Top-25 win in a bowl game against a really good Temple team,” Wells said. “I remember watching that game and, seeing a lot of those guys now on tape, they’ve gotten bigger and stronger.”
Utah State is feeling a little bit better about itself after romping to a 51-13 victory over Idaho State last week. The Aggie starters on offense, for the most part, were rested by early in the third quarter.
While he was in, Utah State senior quarterback Kent Myers was extremely efficient in completing 24 of his 26 passes.
But Wake Forest’s defensive line will make it tough for the Aggies to replicate that kind of offensive success. The Deacon contingent includes seniors Duke Ejiofor and Wendell Dunn at end positions, with juniors Willie Yarbary and Zeek Rodney at tackle spots.
“He [Ejiofor] is all over the place. All four of those guys on the D-line, I think that’s the strength of their defense,” Wells said. “They’re very active and they’re twitchy for big guys.
“They play in the backfield, they’re aggressive and they pressure,” he added. “They rely on those guys up front to get knock-backs and to get push-backs.”
On offense, the Deacons’ linchpin is senior quarterback John Wolford, while senior Cam Serigne also brings experience to the tight end position.
Although Wolford had to battle past teammate Kendall Hinton for the starting signal-caller job, he was a starter as a freshman in 2014 when Utah State beat the Demon Deacons. Against Boston College, Wolford’s passing production was limited to 151 yards but he also broke loose for 92 yards rushing.
“They have got some weapons offensively. Their quarterback is really good and they have explosive running backs and tight ends,” said Utah State linebacker Chase Christiansen, who led the Aggies in tackles (8) against Idaho State. “They have some weapons that we need to come prepared defensively for, if we want to win the game.”
UTAH STATE AT WAKE FOREST
At BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Kickoff • Saturday, 1:00 p.m. MDT
TV • ACC Network Extra
Live Stream • ESPN3
Radio • 1280 AM
Records • USU 1-1, WF 2-0
Series history • USU leads, 1-0
About the Demon Deacons • Quarterback John Wolford has completed 24 of his 34 passes, connecting for four touchdowns, and is the team’s leading rusher with 139 yards... Free safety Jessie Bates, a sophomore, is the team’s leading tackler so far with 14 and has also recorded an interception... Last week’s 24-point margin of victory over Boston College was the largest in ACC play since a 34-10 win over then-conference member Maryland in October of 2013.
About the Aggies • Cornerback Jalen Davis, defensive end Ian Togiai and running back LaJuan Hunt were the only team members to play against Wake Forest in 2014. ... A three-man rotation is expected at running back with Hunt, Justen Herveyand Eltoro Allen — who rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown against Idaho State ... Last road win was 56-14 victory over Fresno State in 2015, with 10 losses in a row away from Logan since ... It’s the fifth straight season to start with a 1-1 record after two games. In three of the past four years, the Aggies won the third contest.