This is the next edition in the preview series for the Utah State Aggies football team. Each new preview covers a different opponent for the upcoming 2022 Aggie football season.
Game 9: vs New Mexico
Date/Time: Saturday, November 5th at 12:30 PM PST
Location: Logan, Utah
TV: CBS Sports Network
Series history: Utah State and New Mexico have faced off 28 times since 1951 and Utah State leads the series 15-13. Utah State’s longest win streak in the series has been five games from 2017-2021. During those years the Aggies won 24-10 in 2017, 61-19 in 2018, 38-25 in 2019, 41-27 in 2020, and 35-10 in 2021. Utah State lost two games in 2016 (24-21) and 2015 (14-13) but did win in 2014 (28-21) and in 2013 (45-10), Utah State’s first year in the conference. The longest losing streak for Utah State in the series is four games from 1956 to 1959.
Players to Watch
Senior quarterback Miles Kendrick
Lettered in three football seasons at Kansas, playing in 17 games with four starts. He completed 96 passes on 157 attempts (61.1%) and threw for 853 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions in his career. He had a career high day against TCU in 2020, throwing for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore wide receiver Luke Wysong
Last year, Wysong added important depth to the group last season, grabbing 24 receptions for 224 yards and averaging 9.3 yards per catch. He is also New Mexico’s leading punt returner and kickoff returner and should contribute at both wide receiver and special teams.
Senior wide receiver Geordan Porter
Geordan Porter played four seasons at Arizona State and recorded 14 career catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. In 2020, Porter had five receptions for 120 yards and scored a touchdown. In 2019, he had eight catches for 83 yards, averaging 10.4 yards per catch. New Mexico head coach Danny Gonzales has spoken highly of Porter who should be seeing more playing time this season.
Sophomore center Collin James
James played one season at Abilene Christian and helped make the way for an offense that averaged 180 rushing yards per game and 400 yards per game. He has a good understanding of how to play on the line and should provide good depth for New Mexico’s offensive line.
Junior offensive lineman DJ Wingfield
DJ Wingfield is one player who is expected to put time in at the tackle position. He lettered for two seasons at El Camino Junior College and was named National Division Central League All-Second Team.
Sophomore offensive lineman J.C. Davis
J.C. Davis, a transfer from Contra Costa College is also expected to get playing time at the tackle position. At Contra Costa College, he was named First Team All-CCCA.
Redshirt senior defensive end Justin Harris
Justin Harris played in 12 games in 2021, starting the opener against Houston Baptist. He made 33 tackles including four sacks and made five tackles for loss. He also had three pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Kyler Drake
Kyler Drake played in 10 games last season and made seven tackles and two quarterback hurries, also making two tackles for loss for four yards.
Senior defensive end Jake Saltonstall
Jake Saltonstall came to New Mexico in 2020 after playing for Foothill College and played in seven games, making 12 tackles and recovering a team leading two fumbles recoveries. In 2021, Saltonstall played in and started all 12 games, making 36 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 4.5 tackles for loss for 21 yards. Saltonstall is going to be a very important player on the defensive line in the 2022 season.
Sophomore defensive end Jaden Phillips
Jaden Phillips played his freshman season in 2021 and saw action in 11 games, starting two games against UTEP and Utah State. He finished the season with 15 tackles and had 1.5 sacks for six yards and 2.5 tackles for loss for seven yards.
Redshirt senior linebacker Reco Hannah
Hannah is going to be an important factor for an experienced linebacker group that is going to be the heart of New Mexico’s defense. Reco played in 12 games in 2019 and four games in 2020 but did not see much action in 2021 due to an injury in the opener.
Junior linebacker Ray Leutele
As a sophomore in 2021, Leutele started in 12 games at middle linebacker, ranking ninth on the team with 36 tackles and second on the team for sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (6.5). He also registered an interception, three pass breakups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and three quarterback hurries.
Junior linebacker Syaire Riley
Syaire Riley played in all 12 games, starting the final 11. He was fifth on the team with 45 tackles, one sack, and four tackles for loss. He will be another important factor on what is a loaded linebacker group.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Cody Moon
While he did redshirt the 2020 season and did not start any games in 2021, Cody Moon has still managed to make an impact. In 12 games last season, Moon made 44 tackles, 0;5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception, a pass breakup, a fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries.
Redshirt senior cornerback Donte Martin
Donte Martin played in 10 games last season and started nine, making 31 tackles on the season and made one interception. He also made a team high seven pass breakups. His lone interception in the 2021 season came against Boise State, which Martin returned for 16 yards.
Sophomore safety Ronald Wilson
Wilson played in 10 games in 2021 and started seven, finishing fourth on the team with 55 tackles. He led all Mountain West freshman with two interceptions, and defended two passes. Ronald Wilson was very much an impact player as a freshman and will provide depth and experience at the safety position.
Junior safety Tavian Combs
Tavian Combs played in and started 11 games last season for the Lobos, finishing second on the team with 81 tackles and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also registered four pass breakups, 1.5 tackles for loss, and was named Honorable Mention All- Mountain West.
In 2020, Combs started five of the seven games that New Mexico and was second on the team in 2020 with 51 tackles. Combs also had a pass breakup, a half sack and a forced fumble.
Redshirt senior safety Jerrick Reed II
In 2021, Jerrick Reed II all 12 games for the Lobos and led the team with 89 tackles and tied for the team lead with seven pass breakups and also recorded an interception. He was named a honorable mention All-Mountain West.
In 2020, Reed II started five of the seven games that New Mexico played and was named First Team All-Mountain West. He made 33 tackles and led the team with interceptions with four. He also broke up three passes and recorded a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
In his sophomore season in 2019, Reed II played in 10 games and recorded 51 tackles, fifth most on the team amongst seniors. He had three tackles for loss for six yards, one quarterback hurry, one pass breakup and an interception.
Sophomore safety Blaine Smith
Smith played in 20 games at New Mexico Military Institute and recorded 35 tackles with a tackle for loss. He also served as the teams’ punt returner, returning 18 punts for an average 12.7 yards with a 67 yard touchdown.
New Mexico, though they haven’t had a winning season since the 2016 9-4 season, is poised to improve. They return 12 starters in very important groups.
The offensive line, linebackers, and safeties are going to be the strength of New Mexico this season and the defensive line looks pretty good too. The key to winning this game is going to be winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. If Utah State is able to push past the line of scrimmage and put pressure on New Mexico, that’s going to force the Lobos into making plays.
Utah State does have experience in the linebacker and defensive back positions and will be able to jump onto forced plays.
This is going to be an interesting game for Utah State, coming off a game against Wyoming and facing a difficult game against Hawaii. This is a winnable game for the Aggies if they are able to control the line of scrimmage and smartly move the ball and the clock.