Wyoming QB Josh Allen presents huge challenge for Utah State defense

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen looks to throw the football against BYU during the first half of the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang, File)

Logan • The stinging lack of endorsement hit Matt Wells as soon as he got off the plane in Las Vegas for preseason football media days last July.

His Utah State Aggies were picked last for their division in the Mountain West Conference.

But it didn’t take long to find some solace. The USU coach pointed out that Wyoming also was picked last in the Mountain Division for 2016, and the Cowboys ended up in the MWC championship game.

If Utah State is to make the same strides, the team will have to get a win over Wyoming on Saturday.

The Aggies lost their first divisional contest against Colorado State in Logan last week, and Wyoming ventures into Maverik Stadium with Josh Allen, a quarterback hyped by some as a first-round NFL pick in April.

Count Wells in that group.

“The last time we saw one like this, it was Mr. [Derek] Carr in Fresno in the championship game my first year as a head coach,” Wells said. “That guy has had a really good NFL career. I think Josh is a very similar quarterback.”

WYOMING AT UTAH STATE <br>Maverik Stadium, Logan <br>Kickoff • 2:30 p.m. <br>Livestream • Facebook <br>Radio • 1280 AM <br>Records • USU 3-3, 1-1 in MWC; WYO 3-2, 1-0 <br>Series history • 68th meeting, Utah State leads 38-25-4 <br>About the Cowboys • After averaging 228 yards passing last year, QB Josh Allen’s current per-game clip is 175.4. … With 2016 leading rusher Brian Hill (1,860 yards) gone to the NFL, freshman Trey Woods has become the top running back with 245 yards in his four games. … Wyoming had a bye last week; its last contest was a 45-10 win over Texas State. … The Cowboys lead the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 35.1 yards, with Tyler Hall having run back two for touchdowns. <br>About the Aggies • Cornerback Jalen Davis has five interceptions with two returned for touchdowns. He was the only non-power 5 player selected to ESPN’s midseason All-America Team. … Senior RB LaJuan Hunt, junior RB Eltoro Allen and senior QB Kent Myers have almost identical rushing attempts this season. Hunt has 63 carries while Allen and Myers have 62 apiece. Myers leads the team with 339 yards on the ground. … Saturday’s game is homecoming for Utah State and a “Gone But Not Forgotten” ceremony will be held at the Merlin Olsen statue at 1 p.m.

Utah State is hoping for a better start containing the opposition’s signal caller.

Colorado State QB Nick Stevens initially ripped through the Aggies’ defense, connecting on his first nine passes to sometimes wide-open receivers as the visitors cruised to a 24-0 second quarter lead last week.

Colorado State beat Utah State 27-14.

“They were running lots of play-action pass. Sometimes it’s hard to read that, but we’ve got to get better at that and transitioning to the pass rush,” Aggies sophomore defensive end Jacoby Wildman said. “We have been working on that a lot the last couple of weeks. It’s something we need to continue to work on, and if we want to get the win this week, we’re going to have to disrupt him.”

The Aggies also initially struggled last week offensively before scoring a couple of touchdowns in the second half.

But the passing attack in the first two quarters amounted to a total of 7 yards.

Cowboys linebacker Logan Wilson and free safety Andrew Wingard lead in tackles for a defense that gave up 49 points in a loss to Oregon but otherwise has yielded only 13.7 points a contest in the other four games.

“They arrive at the ball with a bad attitude,” Wells said. “Those two guys [Wilson and Wingard] are gritty, they are good players and they fit in their scheme. Either they fit in the scheme or they scheme around them, one or the other. It’s probably a combination of both. They’re two excellent football players.”

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