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Utah State Perspective: Instant Analysis of Fresno State at Utah State

A summary and analysis of Bulldogs vs Aggies

Aggies linebacker Elijah Shelton (41) sacks Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener (9) in Logan on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The fourth week of the Mountain West season is now nearly complete and Utah State is still winless, falling to 0-4 after a frustrating 35-16 loss to Fresno State at home. This is the worst start for Utah State since 2007 when they didn’t win a game until they played their 11th game. Things are not going to get any easier in the coming weeks and Utah State has another challenge coming with Wyoming next week.

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

TD USU (Jaylen Warren 86 yard run; PAT blocked) USU 6-0

TD FS (Ronnie Rivers 2 yard run) FSU 7-6

TD USU (Savon Scarver 94 kickoff return) USU 13-7

Second Quarter

TD FS (Jake Haener 59 yard pass to Jalen Cropper) FS 14-13

TD FS (Jake Haener 71 yard pass to Josh Kelley) FS 21-13

FG USU (Connor Coles 38 yard field goal) FS 21-16

TD FS (Ronnie Rivers 4 yard run) FS 28-16

Third Quarter

No score

Fourth Quarter

TD FS (Jake Haener 44 yard pass to Jalen Cropper) FS 35-16

Statistics Comparison

Total yards: FS: 541 USU: 343

Passing yards: FS: 422 USU: 144

Rushing yards: FS: 119 USU: 199

Penalties: FS: 5-39 USU: 6-40

Turnovers: FS: 2 USU: 2

Time of Possession: FS: 33:49 USU: 26:11

Utah State Players of the Game

Offense: Jaylen Warren had nine carries for 136 yards and a touchdown. He really sparked the offense with an 86 yard run to put the Aggies up by 6 to begin the game. Warren’s 136 yards accounted for many of the Utah State rushing yards so he may be seeing more carries in the future as he has had success this season.

Defense: Elijah Shelton had 8 tackles (four solo) and had two tackles for loss, including a sack. The two tackles for loss certainly had an impact when the game was still pretty close up until the fourth quarter score by Fresno State.

Analysis

This was a frustrating game for Utah State, more so than the previous games, because this was a close game that got away from the Aggies. They jumped out to an early lead and scored two touchdowns off big plays in the first quarter, something they haven’t done all season. Jason Shelley was passing the ball well and Jalen Warren was getting big carries.

Things changed with a 21 point second quarter for Fresno State, where two of those touchdowns came on explosive passing plays of 59 yards and 71 yards. This is the same problem that the Aggies secondary has had this season in the passing game and the problem showed itself again in this game. After the first quarter, Utah State was unable to move the ball and scored their final points on a late field goal. Much of this had to do with turnovers. The Aggies only had two turnovers but they came at costly moments when Utah State was able to move the ball. Jayson Shelley was playing well to start but ended the game going 9-23. The bright spot for Shelley is that he did finally surpass 100 yards passing with 144.

Overall, this was a better performance for Utah State, arguably their best of the year. The offense seemed to have a new energy to them but questions still remain, one of the biggest is can Jayson Shelley improve on his accuracy and the 144 yards passing he just had. If he can begin to improve on his passing and the Aggies can find more success running the ball like they did in this game, they will be able to open up and become more creative offensively. Frustrating game in that Utah State let it get away off of a few big plays, but also an indicator of improvement and potential to do better offensively in the coming weeks.