2020 has been a strange year overall, and this is especially true for Utah State, who is still looking for its first win of the season. There are a couple of different things that have made this a strange season for the Aggies.
Goodbye Gary Andersen
In a surprising move, Gary Andersen was let go by the Aggies and Frank Maile became the interim head coach. Andersen went 7-6 (6-2) and lost the first three games of the season before being let go. The Aggies were within one game of winning the Mountain Division last season and are still looking for their next head man, whether that be Frank Maile or another coach.
Jason Shelley Dismissed
In another surprising move, the starting quarterback Jason Shelley was dismissed from the team after the conclusion of the Fresno State game. Frank Maile will not comment on the matter going forward.
Utah State has not only had a player dismissed from the team, other members have opted to transfer out and it isn’t looking good for Utah State. Linebacker Cash Gillam, receiver Deven Thompkins and star safety Troy Lefeged have all entered the transfer portal and this is a big problem for the Aggies. Thompkins was the leading receiver and the Aggies have found very little creativity on offense in the first place and Gillam and Lefeged were both important because both were reliable veterans that could have helped Utah State to improve.
The transfers and loss of Jason Shelley are important not only to this season but also to the next season as well. Next year, everyone gets a year of eligibility back and this could have really helped the Aggies to be a real competitor in the Mountain Division. Now an Aggies team that has been fighting very closely near the top of the division for the past couple of years is 0-4 and the future for the Aggies looks unclear.
Despite everything that has happened for the Aggies this year, whether that be the departure of a coach or players, there is still some light. The Aggies did look better against a Fresno State team that looks improved from last year and they also know the likely starter at quarterback, Andrew Peasley. There is also a good chance that the Aggies get to play a home game against New Mexico on Thanksgiving, and the game against the Lobos provides a nice break from the Aggies as they have already played many of the top teams in the conference this season.
New Mexico gives Utah State an opportunity to try things out and become more creative offensively. Due to the Wyoming game being canceled because of COVID-19, it doesn’t seem likely that Utah State will be bowl eligible however they will be able to get significant snaps in for Andrew Peasley and younger receivers in addition to players on defense so that they are more experienced next year. Jaylen Warren should also be seeing more carries but maybe some of the other younger running backs will also see carries to build experience at this position.
At this point, it is more about gaining experience and building on younger talent to be better prepared to make a run next year under a new head coach.