Running back Gerold Bright has been just that for Utah State, but the Aggies will need even more splash and dash against Air Force

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gerold Bright has been just that for a Utah State offense that has been sputtering of late.

Logan • Aptly named, Gerold Bright has been a bright spot for the Utah State University football team’s offense this season.

Bright and junior Jaylen Warren led the Aggies’ ground game in a 36-10 Mountain West Conference drubbing of visiting Nevada on Saturday night. The senior running back came on strong in the fourth quarter especially, scoring on runs of 67 and 9 yards. He finished with a team-high 126 yards on 15 carries, marking his second 100-plus-yard game of the season and seventh of his career. Warren, a product of Salt Lake City’s East High, added 73 yards on 12 carries.

As entertaining to watch in the post-game press conference as he is on the field, Bright brings swagger and pizzazz to seemingly any occasion.

“I’m good at these questions, huh?” he asked a gaggle of reporters following USU’s win over Nevada late Saturday night, having deftly explained why scoring trumps time of possession every time. That was after he did a little preening at the podium to make sure he didn’t have anything stuck in his teeth.

He’s good, all right, but the quick wit and even faster feet of its running backs won’t be enough to keep USU (4-2, 3-0) unbeaten in the MWC. Jordan Love, the junior quarterback USU is pushing as a Heisman Trophy candidate, hasn’t been able to connect with his receivers recently. After starting the year with 88 completions in 129 attempts (68 percent), he has completed 45 of 94 passes (48 percent) in his past three games, though one of those was against No. 2-ranked LSU.

With a high-octane Air Force Academy team awaiting the Aggies in Colorado next weekend, USU’s sputtering offense needs to find another gear, and quick.

“It's a huge challenge this week. Air Force is not a good team, but a great team in all areas: offense, defense and special teams,” coach Gary Andersen said Monday. “Their offense is firing on all cylinders and their defense is very opportunistic. They run to the ball and play the way they’ve played for a number of years. They have a lot of really good players and a heck of a scheme, which we all know. We have our work cut out for us, but it’s a great opportunity.”

The Falcons (5-2, 3-1) have the top scoring offense in the MWC, averaging 37.4 points per game. Most of that damage is done on the ground, as they lead the conference and are No. 2 in the nation with 304.6 yards per game on average. The charge is led by Kadin Remsberg, who averages 75.9 ypg and has five touchdowns, though four Falcons have hit the 100-yard plateau in a game this season.

The Falcons also boast the MWC Offensive Player of the Week in quarterback in Mike Schmidt. The senior led Air Force to a 56-26 win over Hawaii by racking up 267 yards despite entering the game on the Falcons’ sixth offensive play of the night.

Those kinds of numbers could be intimidating to some of the younger Aggies players, but that’s also where Bright shines. He takes it upon himself to pump up his teammates so they can play at their peak.

“When you’re in a big environment and there are fans out there screaming, that’s what you want, that’s what big-name players wish for,” he said. “We wish that we can play in front of this big crowd, and it’s loud, and that’s when you have camaraderie with your teammates and you all just get through it together. I would just say to have fun, go out there and go crazy.”

The 5-foot-10, 190 pound back from Florida said he sets high expectations for his team and his teammates, but no higher than those he sets for himself.

“You should want more than you deserve,” said Bright, who ranks No. 12 in career rushing yards at Utah State. “If you put in that time, put in that work, are grinding, you deserve that. It ain’t going to be given to you. You aren’t ordained to have it, but you deserve it. So my expectations are super high. I could have rushed for 200 yards and still have been mad. That’s just the kind of person that I am.”

Bright also believes in putting the past behind you but also using it to prepare for that moment in the spotlight. Hence, his pre-press conference ritual of checking his teeth before beginning his postgame analysis.

“Don’t anybody care what you did last week. It’s what you do when you show up Saturday,” he said. “Anything can happen. It’s football.”

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