The performance of Utah State quarterback Kent Myers and his teammates in the first two games of the season created the distinct impression that the Aggies are way worse than Wisconsin and a lot better than Idaho State.
The other deduction is that USU’s other September opponents — Wake Forest, San Jose State and BYU — will look more like No. 9 Wisconsin than they’ll resemble the Bengals.
Thanks to a 51-13 win Thursday night at Maverik Stadium, USU can claim by far the season’s biggest margin of victory for a Utah school vs. a Big Sky Conference member, after BYU beat Portland State by 14 points and Utah defeated North Dakota by 21. The disclaimers: North Dakota is the Big Sky favorite, Portland State is in the middle tier and Idaho State is picked last in the 13-team league.
The Aggies don’t care. They needed something like this, after their encouraging first half of last week’s season opener disintegrated into a 59-10 defeat at Wisconsin. Then came an opponent at another extreme, making USU impossible to evaluate at this stage.
“I don’t think there’s any conclusions yet,” said USU coach Matt Wells.
The Aggies had lost 9 of 10 games dating to last September, though. So the way they dominated Idaho State made this exercise a bit of a breakthrough.
The best illustrations of USU’s effort Thursday were Myers’ topping 400 yards of total offense and then getting the rest of the night off, after his touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half put the Aggies ahead 45-6. After settling for a field goal on their first possession of the game, USU’s first-team offense scored 5 touchdowns in 6 drives, with only a dropped pass that resulted in an interception spoiling Myers’ night.
USU cornerback Jalen Davis added an interception return for a touchdown. His two picks were satisfying, after a targeting ejection at Wisconsin “kind of broke my heart,” he said.
So the first six quarters of USU football in 2017 featured runs of 10-0, 0-59, 17-0, 0-6 and 21-0. In Thursday’s case, that added up to a 38-6 halftime lead. Myers’ passing and running accounted for 343 of the Aggies’ 392 total yards in the first half. He finished the night with 24-of-26 passing for 323 yards (comparable to his 14-of-15 game, a school record for completion percentage, at Hawaii as a freshman in 2014). Myers also ran for 85 yards, accounting for four touchdowns in all.
USU offensive coordinator David Yost’s scheme is designed to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly, with high-percentage passes and a bunch of yards for receivers after the catch. That helps explain Myers’ stunning numbers, which is not to discredit his performance.
Even factoring in the low degree of difficulty Thursday, Myers looked like a quarterback who might thrive in this offense as a senior. That’s the plan, anyway. This is a critical season for Wells’ program — and an important month.
“We’ll know a whole lot more about the Aggies in the first four weeks,” Wells said.
Let’s make it five weeks. USU gets an average Power Five school (Wake Forest), a lower-tier Mountain West program (San Jose State) and whatever label fits BYU these days in what’s left of this month. Many more clues will emerge by Sept. 29 about where this season is headed.
Myers would like to believe the Aggies’ showings are “all about us,” he said. The reality is the other guys have something to do with how USU looks, one way or another.
As of Thursday, the Aggies were encouraged. But the Bengals will make a lot of opponents feel that way.