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Aggie Analysis: Freezing Out the Wolfpack

Agge D shines as USU stays undefeated in MW play

Utah State v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Utah State’s (4-2, 3-0 MW) defense shutdown QB Malik Henry and the Nevada Wolfpack (4-3, 1-2 MW), while the offense stayed consistent in a 36-10 win on Saturday night. The victory is a much-needed confidence booster for the Aggies after a rough going against LSU two weeks prior.

Let’s take a closer look at this game:

OFFENSE:

Big plays clinch it in 4th quarter

The USU offense didn’t churn out many big plays throughout most of the night. They found success in simply whittling Nevada’s defense down play by play. After not amassing a play greater than 25 yards all game, the Aggies broke free in the winding minutes of the game to seal the deal and shut the door completely on Nevada.

After a strange fourth down conversion attempt by the Wolfpack failed (they ran a HB draw on 4th & 20), Utah State took over at their own 20 and found the endzone just three plays later thanks to a 67-yard scamper by Gerold Bright. In the blink of an eye the Aggies had the ball back thanks to a Kevin Meitzenheimer interception and just two plays later Bright found the endzone again from nine yards out after a huge 48 yard completion from Love to Siaosi Mariner.

Getting the Tight Ends involved … kind of

As mentioned in the preview to this game, it was pertinent for the offense to get the tight ends involved against Nevada in order to stretch out an already weak Wolfpack secondary. The offense did find TE Caleb Repp … once. That one reception was crucial, however, as it was the lone passing touchdown of the game for either team.

The Aggies offense didn’t light up the Nevada secondary as one might expect; they had one passing play of 48 yards, but aside from that nothing greater than 15 yards. They found success in chunk plays and spreading the ball out, however, as eight different players had at least one reception for the Aggies.

DEFENSE:

Capitalizing on Malik Henry’s mistakes

Malik Henry, as he is wont to do through two starts this year, threw some costly interceptions on Saturday night. Both Shaq Bond and Kevin Meitzenheimer picked Henry off. Both interceptions set up eventual touchdowns by the offense, a 14 point swing. That didn’t necessarily swing the outcome of the game in Utah State’s favor, as it was a 26-point difference when it was all said and done, but those takeaways were pivotal in keeping Nevada off the board. This game was a dominating effort by the defense in all facets of the game. The single allowed TD was a last minute run by Toa Taua to get Nevada to double-digit points.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Savon Scarver swings the momentum early

Another day, another kickoff return touchdown for Savon Scarver.

His 100-yard score in the first quarter did two things: A) set the school record for most kickoff return TDs by a single player and B) permanently swung the momentum in the Aggie’s favor. Nevada drove down the field and almost got into the endzone before settling for a field goal on the opening drive of the game, but Scarver’s kick return TD immediately after put the ball back in Utah State’s court, where it would stay for the rest of the game.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This was very clearly the defense’s best game of the year against an FBS opponent. The Aggie defense only allowed points on Nevada’s first and last drives of the game, the last of which was nothing but a garbage time TD.

Utah State as a whole practiced great execution in all three phases of the game. The passing game had some unimpressive numbers, but it’s good to see the ball being spread out because Love really does have a good amount of weapons to choose from.

Next up is Air Force, who just beat up on Hawaii. The Mountain West schedule doesn’t get any easier as the season goes on.

Follow Alex on Twitter @thesportswizard and follow the Mountain West Connection @MWCConnection