The season has ended for the Utah State football team and it was a very successful one. In his first season with Utah State, Blake Anderson went 11-3 and beat Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, 24-13.
In the preseason, Utah State was predicted to finish 5th in the mountain division, however the Aggies finished first and beat San Diego State in the Mountain West title game. During the preseason, ESPN’s FPI rankings predicted that Utah State would finish 117th in the nation at 5-7 with a 35.1% chance of getting to six wins, a 2.6% chance of winning the division, and a 0.6% chance of winning the conference. Not only did Utah State get to six wins but they also won the division and the conference, which means that Utah State did a seriously good job this year of beating the odds this year. The Mountain West was a strong conference this season and to this point is undefeated in bowl games.
The season started with an impressive late comeback victory at Washington State, a game which not many people thought Utah State would win. The Aggies would then win games against North Dakota and Air Force before losing the first game of the year at home to Boise State, a game where Utah State couldn’t take advantage of red-zone opportunities. The next week Utah State would have problems with turnovers and have another disappointing performance in the red-zone in a loss to BYU where the Aggie defense also gave up big plays to BYU, such as a 59 yard run by Cougar running back Tyler Allgeier. After a bye week, the Aggies would get back on track with five straight wins against UNLV, Colorado State, Hawaii, New Mexico State, and San Jose State before a confused blowout loss to Wyoming at home where the Aggies committed three turnovers and went 5-15 on third down. Utah State would finish the regular season against New Mexico and due to a Boise State loss to San Diego State, the Aggies won the tie breaker over Air Force and earned a spot in the Mountain West Championship game. Not many people thought the Aggies would have much of a chance against the Aztecs, who were ranked and coming off the big win over Boise State, however Blake Anderson and the Aggies stunned the nation in a 46-13 beatdown on the road. Utah State would earn a spot in the Jimmy Kimmel Los Angles Bowl with the win and beat Oregon State in a hard fought game that came down to the second half.
at Washington State: WIN; 26-23 (1-0)
vs North Dakota: WIN; 48-24 (2-0)
at Air Force: WIN; 49-45 (3-0) (1-0)
vs Boise State: LOSE; 26-3 (3-1) (1-1)
vs BYU; LOSE; 38-20 (3-2) (1-1)
at UNLV; WIN; 28-24 (4-2) (2-1)
vs Colorado State; WIN; 26-24 (5-2) (3-1)
vs Hawaii; WIN; 51-31 (6-2) (4-1)
at New Mexico State; WIN; 35-13 (7-2) (4-1)
at San Jose State; WIN; 48-17 (8-2) (5-1)
vs Wyoming; LOSE; 44-17 (8-3) (5-2)
at New Mexico; WIN; 35-10 (9-3) (6-2)
at San Diego State; WIN; 46-13 (10-3) (6-2)
vs Oregon State (Neutral); WIN; 24-13 (11-3) (6-2)
Utah State Play Makers
The leading passer for this season was Logan Bonner, who completed 263 of his 430 attempts (61.2%) and threw for 3,628 yards and 36 touchdowns on the season but also threw 12 interceptions, throwing an interception in almost every game. Andrew Peasley had the second most completions on the year, completing 28 of 51 passes (54.9%) and passing for 415 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions. Peasley is no longer a part of the team after entering the transfer portal. Copper Legas, who took over for the injured Bonner in the bowl game, finished the season completing 11 of his 20 attempted passes (54.9%) while throwing for 171 yards and two touchdowns compared to one interception.
The leading rusher for the season was junior Calvin Tyler Jr., who finished the season with 884 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on 196 attempts. Elelyon Noa rushed for 597 yards four touchdowns on 138 carries. John Gentry had 235 yards on 66 attempts.
The leading receiver this year was Deven Thompkins, who made plays all season long and finished the year with 1,704 and ten touchdowns on 102 receptions. Brandon Bowling had 835 yards and ten touchdowns on 56 receptions. Derek Wright had 789 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns on the season while Justin McGriff had 414 yards receiving and six touchdowns on 35 receptions.
The leading defender for this season was linebacker Justin Rice, who had 124 total tackles, three interceptions, a pass deflection, and two forced fumbles. The next most impactful defender was senior Nick Heninger, who had 74 total tackles, eight sacks, five pass deflections, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Safety Hunter Reynolds had 84 total tackles, three pass deflections, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Safety Shaq Bond had 80 total tackles, a sack, two pass deflections, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Linebacker Cash Gilliam had 64 total tackles, one sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Linebacker AJ Vongphachanh had 55 total tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery. Defensive tackle Marcus Moore had 46 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. Safety Ajani Carter had 45 tackles, two sacks, a pass deflection, three interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Defensive end Byron Vaughns, who transferred this past season from Texas, had 44 total tackles, 4.6 sacks. six pass deflections, and a forced fumble. Cornerback Cam Lampkin had 43 tackles, and six pass deflections.
These were just some of the contributors for a team that had a lot of talent and success under the guidance of Blake Anderson and at this point, it seems to just be the start of what Anderson wants to help the Aggies accomplish. The team looked more motivated and more consistent under Anderson and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Aggies maintain a high standard with the new found success and energy surrounding this team after one of its best finishes in program history, capped off with the first ever Mountain West title for Utah State.