This is the next edition in the opponent preview series for the Utah State Aggies football team. Each new preview covers a different opponent for the Aggies.
Game 2: at Alabama
Date/Time: Saturday, September 3rd at 7:30 PM EST
Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
TV: SEC Network
Line: Alabama (-38)
Series History: This is going to be the third meeting between the Aggies and the Tide. Alabama leads the series 2-0 and won the last game against Utah State in 2005, 35-3. The first time Utah State and Alabama met was in 2004 in Tuscaloosa, a 48-17 victory for the Tide. Alabama has never played in Logan, Utah and that will remain the case this year as the Aggies once again travel to Tuscaloosa.
Players to Watch
Junior quarterback Bryce Young
Bryce Young spent his first full season as a starter successful as he led Alabama to a playoff win over Cincinnati and a berth in the national title game before falling to an elite Georgia defense. Young set the single season record at Alabama for passing yards (4,872) and passing touchdowns (47). He also won the Heisman trophy this past season and will be a very hard force to slow down for Utah State.
Redshirt junior running back Trey Sanders
Running back is a really interesting position for Alabama this year as there isn’t a whole lot of players coming in with statistics that stand out on the college level. However, one of the names to mention is Trey Sanders. Sanders has dealt with injuries in the past but put up 134 yards rushing on 30 attempts in 2020. In 2021, Sanders rushed for 314 yards and two touchdowns on 72 attempts. He should very much be an impact for that running back group.
Sophomore wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks
While he doesn’t have staggering numbers, he was still impactful as a freshman, grabbing 192 yards receiving on 15 receptions and scoring two touchdowns. He also played in all 15 games. He will at some point be bound to have a breakout game an against a Utah State team that is losing key players, this could be that breakout game.
Sophomore defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry
In 2021, McKinstry recorded 25 tackles, one sack, and an interception and a pass breakup. Alabama has a deep secondary this season and McKinstry should be contributing to that group.
Senior defensive back DeMarcco Hellams
Hellams earned the starting spot during his junior year in 2021 and totaled 87 tackles and 2.5 tackles per loss. Hellams also posted three interceptions. Hellams suffered a lower leg injury during fall camp last year which limited him, however he should be much stronger this year.
Junior defensive back Eli Ricks
Eli Ricks comes in from LSU and played in 14 games in two seasons with the Tigers. He suffered a season ending injury in 2021 and as a freshman in 2020, had 20 tackles as well has four interceptions and five pass breakups. Ricks should also be back to stronger health this fall.
Senior defensive back Jordan Battle
In 2021, Battle had 86 tackles, one tackle for loss, and had three picks, taking two back for a touchdown. He has been the starting strong safety for the last two years and will be a significant starter again in his final year.
Junior defensive back Brian Branch
Branch made 55 tackles, five for loss and one sack and had a team high nine pass breakups in addition to recovering a fumble.
Senior defensive lineman Byron Young
Over 15 games in my 2021, Young made seven starts and made 39 tackles (nine for loss) and also had two sacks. In 2020, Young had 29 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and a sack and fumble recovery.
Senior linebacker Henry To’oto’o
After playing for Tennessee in 2019 and 2020, To’oto’o led the Tide with tackles this past season with 113 tackles and had 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble.
Sophomore linebacker Dallas Turner
Turner came into Alabama as a fershman in 2021 and was selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team. Turner posted 30 tackles and had 10 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, five quarterback hurries.
Alabama is very good most years, that’s really a given. The championship runner ups will have to find some play makers on offense, but there is little doubt that they will. The Tide defense looks strong like most years, however there is something about this particular group of players that makes it very believable that Alabama will field a top ten defense. This game looks like it will be the first loss of the year for the Aggies.