When: Saturday, October 19th @8:15pm MDT
Where: Maverik Stadium – Logan, UT
Radio: Aggie Sports Network
Last Time Out: The Aggies fell short by a single point, 38-37, against the Wolfpack in Reno back in 2016
Utah State returns to action on Saturday after a much needed bye week following a 42-6 beat down by now #2 ranked LSU in Baton Rouge. So far the Aggies are undefeated in conference play with a 2-0 record, whilst Nevada improved to 1-1 with a win 31-28 over SJSU last weekend.
Let’s take a closer look at this matchup:
The Nevada defense is quite the opposite of LSU’s, can the Aggie take advantage?
- First and foremost, the Wolfpack run defense is their strongest asset. They currently rank 30th nationally in rush yards allowed at 115.8 per contest. They allowed 15 total rush yards to San Jose State last weekend. The problem for Nevada is in the passing defense, and it’s a big problem. They’re the 120th ranked passing D, allowing 297 pass yards per game. That number did not get any better after last week’s 405 yard performance from SJSU QB Josh Love. If there’s one thing Utah State must be excited about, it’s the idea of Jordan Love (no relation) matching up against this woeful Wolfpack secondary. Expect the Aggies to commit to the passing game in this one, because well … why wouldn’t they?
The Aggies redzone offense is one of the worst in the country while Nevada’s redzone D is also near the bottom, how does this clash of weaknesses impact the game?
- It’s no secret by now that Utah State can’t seem to get it done once they’re inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Luckily for the Aggies, they face off against one of the worst redzone defenses this weekend. The USU redzone offense is 122nd nationally and it’s going up against the 115th worst redzone defense. If the Aggies fail to find big scoring plays against the Nevada secondary (which will be troubling if they can’t, as the Wolfpack are very prone to giving up said plays), this matchup will be key to either side winning.
What should the Utah State D expect of QB Malik Henry in his second start?
- After uninspiring QB play through their first few games, Nevada HC Jay Norvell made the switch to Malik Henry as the signal-caller. In his first start of the season he had many ups and downs. Henry tossed some beautiful, accurate passes for big gains and touchdowns, but he followed them up with some horrible decisions resulting in unnecessary interceptions. The Utah State secondary could be feasting on those mistakes all night if Henry hasn’t learned his lesson over the week of practice. The defense will have to be wary, however, as one of the big playmakers for Nevada is at the receiving position.
The Aggie defense must focus on RB Toa Taua and WR Romeo Doubs
- WR Romeo Doubs is fast and can get into open space quickly. The Aggies secondary has been lackadaisical at best in most games this season, so if they want to contribute to a win here they’ll need to keep Doubs in check and prevent the long ball.
- Another dangerous weapon on the Wolfpack offense is RB Toa Taua. He’s a bowling ball of a player – difficult to take down and tough as hell. The SJSU defense had a hard time putting him on the ground last week as he had his best game of the year, averaging 4.7 yards per rush while amassing 160 yards and one touchdown.
- It’s crystal clear what the strengths and weaknesses are for Nevada. If Utah State wants to win this game (and win it comfortably), they’ll attack the porous Wolfpack secondary with Jordan Love’s elite arm and all the weapons he’s got at his disposal. As always, it would be wise for the Aggies to get the tight ends involved. Do that and they can really stretch out the field and get their fastest players out into space. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a multitude of pass-catchers get involved.
- Any success the offense may have in the redzone this week will be great to see for the confidence of the squad, but it has to be taken with a grain of salt given the Wolfpack’s affinity for letting opponents score inside the 20. Football is a game of winning by taking advantage of the opponent’s deficiencies, of course, so this is the area the Aggies need to capitalize on in this game.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Utah State 49, Nevada 29
What do you think of the matchup? Let us know in the comments.
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