Logan • Entering the 2019 season, the Utah State Aggies weren’t expected to tinker much with their offense. Even with a new coaching staff, the Aggies were so good on that side of the field last year that there wasn’t any reason to fix what wasn’t broken.
But through its first seven games, USU’s offense has looked more like a sputtering engine than a well-oiled machine — especially recently. The Aggies are averaging 29 points per game this season. That sounds OK, except that last year, they averaged 47.5.
And although Utah State is 3-1 in the Mountain West Conference — possibly the only measure that matters — the team is frustrated about how the offense has performed lately.
“We’re not doing what we’re capable of, what we know we can do,” junior quarterback Jordan Love said. “It’s definitely frustrating. As a whole, we’re not producing the way we need to and the way we know we can.”
BYU AT UTAH STATE
When • Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • ESPN2
In 2018, the Aggies routinely blew out teams with their lightning fast offense, scoring in the high-50s and 60s on many nights. They’ve only done that once this season, a 62-7 rout of Stony Book.
Instead, USU is having outings like its most recent game, where it scored only seven points against Air Force. The Aggies also mustered only six points against LSU. The Tigers are the nation’s No. 1 team this week. But still.
“It’s kind of weird,” Love said of not producing as many points as last year. “We know that we can do that. We have the capability, the players, all that. So we know we can do it.”
But new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said the team’s offensive production isn’t actually as anemic as it seems.
“I think that we’re in a place right now where we haven’t played our best ball, but we’re close,” Sanford said. “When you watch the film, it’s not far off.”
Sanford thinks Love is making strides as the season has gone along, and he was pleased with the way his quarterback attacked in the second half of of the Air Force game. It’s the other offensive players — and himself — that need to give Love support, he said.
“We have to help him, too,” Sanford said. “My job as a coach is to give him everything at this disposal to play comfortable, play free, play loose.”
Before the Aggies played Air Force, coach Gary Andersen lamented that many of the team’s offensive drives lasted less than two minutes against Nevada — a game they won. He said if that happened again, they would surely lose against the Falcons.
Not only did that happen multiple times, but Utah State also ran only 36 plays against Air Force. The Falcons had 84 plays.
“I feel like our head has wandered off somewhere else for a little bit,” junior running back Jaylen Warren said. “I think last week was a wake-up call for that.”
Another thing that’s been plaguing the Aggies lately is their wide receivers dropping Love’s passes. Andersen said recently that Love isn’t the type to blame his receives for those moments or when his pass completion percentage is subpar.
Wide receiver Siaosi Mariner said in order for he and his compatriots to perform better, they have to forget about the mistakes.
“When you do drop it, just have short term memory,” Mariner said. “But the goal is obviously not to drop. But when that situation does come, it’s to have short term memory and move on from it.”
Warren remembers Utah State’s first game of the season — a close loss to Wake Forest — and knows that team still exists.
“We don’t suck,” Warren said. “We just have to find ourselves again. I feel like once we find ourselves again, it’ll be something everyone will want to watch.”