The Aggies opened up their season against Boise State at Albertsons Stadium on Saturday night. The Aggies lost 42-13 and a lot was learned about both teams. Firstly, Boise State is the same old Boise State, they stalled in the second half after building a 28-0 lead with a 21 point second quarter. The Aggies have a lot of things to figure out going into next week against San Diego State.
Firstly A Score Summary:
In the first quarter the only score was a one yard touchdown run by George Holani that capped off the longest drive for either team in the first quarter, nine plays 79 yards. The Aggies and Broncos traded punts until the Broncos exploded in the second quarter with two touchdown passes from Hank Bachmeier and a touchdown run. The first was a 52 yard pass to Khalil Shakir, the second a 17 yard pass to George Holani. Bachmeier also ran in it himself for a 6 yard touchdown with 3:23 left before the half. The Aggies were able to get nothing going in the first half and looked very uncomfortable. Utah State fared much better in the second half, with a 16 play 80 yard touchdown which was the only touchdown in the third quarter as the Broncos slowed it down with a 28-0 lead for a majority of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter Utah State was able to move the ball, however so was Boise State as they scored two more touchdowns, including the third touchdown pass from Hank Bachmeier. He would finish the game going 20-28 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The Brocnos outgained the Aggies 450 yards to 203.
What did we learn about Utah State?
The Aggies Need to Get Comfortable on Offense
The second half was better for the Aggies but it certainly did not make about for their first half performance. Boise State was able to stop a lot of plays from developing and there needs to be more creative play calling. Things will not get easier next week against the Aztecs as San Diego State always has a very good defense, so Utah State needs to learn from the season opener and come up with a plan for moving the ball to keep themselves in the game with the Aztecs. Utah State was 8-20 on third down and third down is something the Aggies will need to get more comfortable with, especially going up against San Diego State.
The Offensive Line Needs to Get Better
Jaylen Warren actually had a productive night, 23 carries 88 yards and two touchdowns. While Warren produced two touchdowns, he was also tackled either behind or just beyond the line many times throughout the night because there was no holes to run through. Jason Shelley was sacked a number of different times and the Aggies only finished the game with 92 yards passing and 111 yards rushing, 203 total yards. If the Aggies want to compete for the Mountain West title and have a chance of winning the game against San Diego State next week, the o-line needs to improve and give Shelley more time to pass and Warren more holes to run through.
The Secondary Needs to Bounce Back
Utah State’s secondary struggled all night against the Broncos, especially with the 52 yard touchdown that resulted from a blown coverage. The Aggies did a good job of keeping the receivers in check on deep passes but struggled to tackle. There were times when George Holani would place a hand on a member of the secondary attempting to tackle and push the defender out of the way. Khalil Shakir was also able to break tackles and scored a very important touchdown when the Broncos were still only up 28-13. The tackling goes for the entire defense, not just the secondary, because Holani was able to keep pushing forward for extra yardage. On the night, Khalil Shakir had seven receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns and was able to get chunks of yards through the running game. The secondary will need to be physical against San Diego State and moving forward to stay with receivers and prevent big plays.
The Defensive Line Has to Get More Pressure
The defensive line for the Aggies didn’t play bad, they were able to stop Holani quickly at points and they did get pressure on Bachmeier, but the defense needs to get more pressure. Holani broke too many tackles and moved too easily through the defensive line on some plays. Bachmeier at times had too much time to throw the football and run with it. The Aggies defensive front will need to make more forcible tackles and they will need to get more pressure, especially on third down. Boise State only returned one starter from the offensive line last year and for the entire first half and late in the second, so this will be something to focus on as the Aggies prepare for what will most likely be a strong offensive line for the Aztecs.
Utah State has a lot to learn from this season opener. They did some really good things such as not committing penalties and not turning the ball over, but tackling was a big issue. One of the other issues for the Aggies was that the receivers were having a hard time breaking free of coverage, and this isn’t going to get easier with what is always a tough San Diego State defense. Utah State needs to create more holes up front for the running game and needs to do a better job of protecting Jason Shelley. At times, it did seem that the Aggies were being conservative on offense so moving forward, it may be more beneficial for Utah State to find creative ways to get their star players on offense involved. The Aggies will take something away from this game and should have a closer game against San Diego State.