The Cowboys might not have as much of an advantage in advanced scouting as they appear to, though. Especially since these days it’s anyone’s guess who will take the field for USU.
Still, Maile is trying to keep things positive. At a press conference Monday, he said his rapidly rotating rotation gives the Aggies more mystique.
“I think it’s a two-way street, you know, them trying to prepare for us and seeing new faces, new numbers as they’re checking us out pregame,” Maile said. “And it’s the same thing for us. So if you’re always counting on somebody to be in the game and you don’t see 'em, and that changes your mind mentally about what you’re about to do with the game plan, I think that’s worse than not just preparing your guys fundamentally to be sound.”
Coaches expected playing in a pandemic would produce more uncertainty around lineups, and some of USU’s variances can be attributed to that.
“You can kind of fudge a little bit with football because it’s a team sport. But when you’re talking about wrestling and the mentality it takes to win a championship in wrestling, that’s an individual sport where you call for no help and you can’t turn to anybody,” Maile said. “And so Cooper’s a winner at the end of the day. And that’s what we’re looking forward to: his leadership and his competitiveness to lead the Aggies to a ‘W.’ ”
If Legas can get the Aggies their first win of the season this week, even if it is against a 1-2 Cowboys team, he’ll earn a spot in Aggies lore. Until this season, only three times in the past 25 years has a quarterback made his starting debut in his first game with the Aggies. Shelley made the fourth and Legas will be the fifth. (Redshirt freshman Josh Calvin, Legas' backup, will be the sixth should anything happen, which isn’t far-fetched this season).
In addition, Legas will be taking over an offense that’s last in the Mountain West in total yards (971) and total points (45). The Aggies trail the Cowboys in both categories (1,219 and 89, respectively) despite having played one more game. Plus, Legas will be leading the charge with the 13th youngest squad in the nation. Just more than 65% of USU’s players are underclassmen, and between COVID and injuries, most of them are seeing playing time.
On defense, Lefeged’s departure doesn’t help USU’s situation. He started every game in 2019 and was second on the team in sacks (2), forced fumbles (3) and fumble recoveries (2). This season he recorded 13 total tackles — 10 solo — and a pass breakup in two games.
Scarver said his teammates, whoever they happen to be on any given game day, are the ones who can make that happen. The Aggies, he said, have plenty of fight left.
“We are all hunters. We are all hungry. We are all still hunting,” Scarver said. “And I can’t say enough how hard we work. So we’re just going to keep working hard. That’s all we can do, and keep getting better every day because hunters are always hungry. So when it’s time to hunt, we’re going to go hunting.”