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Utah State has an awesome QB and a ton of regrouping to do in 2016

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Is this the year all this turnover finally catches up to the Aggies? Don't be so sure of it.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

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1. The Duke of mid-majors

Through what is now more than five years of writing these offseason previews, I have established certain benchmarks along the way. "Here's where I talk about hard jobs [at ULM, Wyoming, Hawaii, etc.]." "Here's where I note Marshall recruits better than everybody else in Conference USA." "Here's where I talk myself into North Carolina/USC." "Here's where I disappoint everyone by talking about how incredible Alabama is going to be."

Today comes a reliable benchmark. Here's where I marvel at the steady ship that Utah State has become.

From my 2013 preview:

In 2012, not only did Utah State finish 16th in the polls and win 11 games (more than former head coach Brent Guy won in four seasons from 2005-08), but the program looked like it belonged, like it had always belonged.

From 2014:

Taking a moribund program (here's your annual reminder that the Aggies won 15 games in the six years before Gary Andersen took over and didn't have a winning record from 1997 to 2011) and putting together a short span of success is hard but reasonably common. Sustaining that, especially through a coaching change, is anything but common.

From last year:

Four years after finding hope in a 4-8 record, Utah State gets total benefit of the doubt until proved otherwise.

For as unchanging as college football can be, it does change.

In my original USU preview in 2012, I called Utah State the Duke of the WAC; at that time, I was referring to an athletic program that had mastered basketball but couldn't figure football out. USU was in the middle of an incredible run on the court -- the Aggies went 87-17 under Stew Morrill from 2009-11 -- but hadn't finished with a winning record in football since John L. Smith went 6-5 in 1996.

Five years later, Utah State and Duke appear to still have quite a bit in common. The football programs at both have become known for doing more with less. Utah State is the smallest of three FBS schools in a state that doesn't produce a ton of FBS-caliber talent, and Duke has a small fan base and rigorous academic standards. But under David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have won 27 games in three seasons.

Utah State, meanwhile, has bowled for five straight seasons. And while the win total trailed off in 2015 -- the Aggies went 6-7 after averaging 10 per year from 2012-14 -- the quality really didn't. They ranked 46th in S&P+ last fall, up from the No. 52 ranking the 10-4 team of 2014 pulled. Their schedule strength increased considerably (five opponents ranked in the S&P+ top 50), and they held their own, especially in a fantastic midseason run.

In 2016, the beat goes on. Last year, head coach Matt Wells had to replace both coordinators (OC Kevin McGiven went to Oregon State with Andersen, DC Todd Orlando went to Houston with Tom Herman). This year, he does it again -- OC Josh Heupel went to Missouri, and DC Kevin Clune followed McGiven to Oregon State -- and replaces most of his defensive front seven and beloved quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who finally used up his eligibility. But if the new hires are up to snuff, he should find things to like about the personnel he returns.

And again, until proved otherwise, Utah State gets the benefit of the doubt.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 6-7 | Adj. Record: 7-6 | Final F/+ Rk: 53 | Final S&P+ Rk: 46
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
3-Sep Southern Utah N/A 12-9 W 33% 35% -12.8
11-Sep at Utah 22 14-24 L 51% 30% +0.0 +4.0
19-Sep at Washington 13 17-31 L 25% 2% -11.1 -8.5
3-Oct Colorado State 86 33-18 W 90% 97% +16.0 +10.5
10-Oct at Fresno State 103 56-14 W 97% 100% +28.8 +30.5
16-Oct Boise State 37 52-26 W 98% 100% +31.0 +35.5
23-Oct at San Diego State 43 14-48 L 18% 0% -37.7 -39.0
30-Oct Wyoming 115 58-27 W 87% 100% +9.7 +3.0
7-Nov at New Mexico 99 13-14 L 77% 90% -16.6 -15.5
14-Nov at Air Force 63 28-35 L 44% 17% -5.4 -8.5
21-Nov Nevada 97 31-27 W 46% 37% -16.0 -11.0
28-Nov BYU 35 28-51 L 42% 14% -23.3 -20.0
22-Dec vs. Akron 84 21-23 L 65% 58% -10.0 -9.0

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 29.1 63 21.8 26
Points Per Game 29.0 64 26.7 61

2. Your retirement year is usually your worst

Keeton battled through so much to return for 2015. He led USU to its first bowl in forever in 2011 as a true freshman, then catapulted into stardom as a sophomore; during USU's run to 11 wins, he threw for 3,373 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushed for another 619. He was mobile, confident, and accurate. And in 2013, he improved even more. Through five games as a junior (which included trips to Utah, Air Force, and USC), he was completing 71 percent with 17 touchdowns and just one interception.

And then he tore his knee up. He returned in 2014, looked like a shadow of his former self, and tore his knee up again. Given a fifth year, he returned for his 2015 curtain call.

Chuckie wasn't very good last year. It pains me to say that about maybe my favorite player of 2012. Keeton completed barely 50 percent and threw four touchdowns to seven interceptions. His passer rating was a paltry 94.1. Take out a decent performance against Utah, and it falls to 86.1. That's horrific.

Even worse, USU got definitively better when Keeton missed time in the middle of the year with another injury. Sophomore Kent Myers came in and did a better Chuckie impression than Chuckie.

  • Utah State with Keeton at QB (regular season)
    Record: 2-3 (second-order wins: 1.2) | Average percentile performance: 39% | Points per game: 20.4
  • Utah State with Myers at QB (regular season)
    Record: 4-3 (second-order wins: 5.0) | Average percentile performance: 73% | Points per game: 36.3

Keeton and Myers split time in the bowl game and ended up throwing the same number of passes in 2015. Keeton's 199 passes resulted in 1,001 yards, four touchdowns, and seven interceptions; Myers' resulted in 1,593 yards, 16 touchdowns, and three picks. The Aggies were lucky to win two games under Keeton and were unlucky to win only four with Myers. The torch was passed, but Keeton got a chance to finish his career upright, and it was bittersweet.

3. Seriously, Chuckie's ceiling was so high for a while there

Here's what he did to Weber State at the beginning of 2013. Yes, it was Weber State, but come on.

The bar is high for Myers this year, not only because he was strong in 2015 but because 2013 was only three years ago. We remember what a Utah State QB can do.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.31 39 IsoPPP+ 96.2 85
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 38.4% 102 Succ. Rt. + 99.3 75
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 29.6 63 Def. FP+ 27.8 30
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.2 90 Redzone S&P+ 102.8 64
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 24.2 ACTUAL 24 -0.2
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 93 90 75 85
RUSHING 71 80 60 82
PASSING 88 82 87 77
Standard Downs 62 44 68
Passing Downs 94 98 89
Q1 Rk 99 1st Down Rk 75
Q2 Rk 31 2nd Down Rk 42
Q3 Rk 65 3rd Down Rk 104
Q4 Rk 85

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Chuckie Keeton 104 199 1001 4 7 52.3% 7 3.4% 4.6
Kent Myers 6'0, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8181 121 199 1593 16 3 60.8% 14 6.6% 7.1
Damion Hobbs 6'2, 220 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8538 4 5 73 1 0 80.0% 0 0.0% 14.6
DJ Nelson 5'9, 200 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7833
Cade Smith 6'0, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8067
Jordan Love 6'3, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8192

4. Myers is ready

After bringing in Heupel for a one-off year, Wells elected to promote from within. He still maintains a former Oklahoma quarterback in the coordinator role -- Matt's brother Luke was a backup at OU from 1997-99 and has spent the last three seasons as USU's co-coordinator -- but he promoted young receivers coach Jovon Bouknight, a former star receiver at Wyoming, to co-coordinator as well. I'm going to assume decent continuity.

Considering how good Myers looked in the middle of the season, there might not be anything wrong with that. Myers was up-and-down as sophomores tend to be -- in eight games with at least 17 passes, his completion rate was 70 percent or higher on four occasions and 54 percent or lower on three -- but the potential was obvious. He was able to lead an efficient attack in some games, and he was able to utilize the play-action deep ball in others. And all the while, he proved explosive in the open field. He rushed for 191 yards in the win over Colorado State and averaged 8 highlight yards per opportunity, strong for a QB.

If Myers gets hurt (while USU has suffered enough QB injuries to buy some low-injury karma, that's not something you should count on), his backups are intriguing. Damion Hobbs is a well-regarded former Oregon signee, and there are two other former three-star recruits.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Devante Mays RB 5'11, 220 Sr. NR 0.7883 165 966 9 5.9 6.2 43.0% 0 0
LaJuan Hunt RB 5'8, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7906 106 338 5 3.2 3.3 25.5% 2 2
Kent Myers QB 6'0, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8181 72 448 3 6.2 8.0 38.9% 6 3
Chuckie Keeton QB 43 230 1 5.3 6.4 41.9% 8 2
Damion Hobbs QB 6'2, 220 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8538 19 109 1 5.7 4.7 52.6% 1 1
Justen Hervey RB 5'9, 195 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8006 14 47 1 3.4 1.2 35.7% 0 0
Tonny Lindsey RB 5'9, 190 Jr. NR NR 12 93 0 7.8 6.5 50.0% 0 0
Hunter Sharp WR 8 20 0 2.5 1.9 25.0% 2 1
Nick Vigil LB 6 17 1 2.8 1.5 33.3% 0 0
Devonte Robinson WR 4 -2 0 -0.5 0.0 0.0% 0 0
Morian Walker Jr. RB 6'1, 215 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8222







5. Utah State always seems to have a breakthrough running back.

USU began 2015 with LaJuan Hunt getting a lion's share of the carries, but JUCO transfer DeVante Mays overtook him. And while Myers replacing Keeton made a huge difference in USU's output, this move made an impact as well. Mays had a couple of duds (agaisnt New Mexico and BYU: 36 carries, 83 yards), but he rushed for 176 against Wyoming, 133 against Nevada, and 124 against a good Akron defensive front. And his full-season numbers were both efficient (43 percent opportunity rate) and explosive (6.2 highlight yards per opportunity).

A full year with Mays as starter should produce a 1,000-yard rusher, especially considering how experienced the line is. Four of last year's five starters return, along with four of five second-stringers.

Hunt struggled drastically in 2015, but if he is ineffective again, USU has a few other options. Either of two three-star youngsters (sophomore Justen Hervey, freshman Morian Walker Jr.) could break through, and Tonny Lindsey was effective in a small handful of carries.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Hunter Sharp WR-X 109 71 827 65.1% 29.0% 7.6 58.7% 45.9% 1.63
Wyatt Houston TE 6'5, 255 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7726 45 25 307 55.6% 12.0% 6.8 57.8% 48.9% 1.33
Devonte Robinson WR-X 41 20 326 48.8% 10.9% 8.0 56.1% 34.1% 2.24
Andrew Rodriguez WR-T 5'10, 185 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7000 37 27 281 73.0% 9.8% 7.6 54.1% 40.5% 1.62
LaJuan Hunt RB 5'8, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7906 30 27 238 90.0% 8.0% 7.9 43.3% 43.3% 1.69
Braelon Roberts WR-Z 6'3, 200 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) NR 25 17 150 68.0% 6.6% 6.0 60.0% 56.0% 0.97
Brandon Swindall WR-Z 24 14 173 58.3% 6.4% 7.2 45.8% 54.2% 1.24
Tyler Fox WR-Z 5'11, 175 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8172 16 5 75 31.3% 4.3% 4.7 50.0% 25.0% 1.55
Kennedy Williams WR-T 5'8, 160 Sr. NR NR 15 6 62 40.0% 4.0% 4.1 60.0% 40.0% 0.95
Zach Van Leeuwen WR-X 6'0, 185 So. 2 stars (5.4) NR 10 6 61 60.0% 2.7% 6.1 80.0% 50.0% 1.15
Dax Raymond TE 6'5, 235 So. 2 stars (5.2) NR 9 4 72 44.4% 2.4% 8.0 33.3% 44.4% 1.65
Jaren Colston-Green WR 6'3, 205 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8106 3 2 54 66.7% 0.8% 18.0 66.7% 66.7% 3.12
Chris Copier TE 6'6, 250 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7883 2 1 35 50.0% 0.5% 17.5 100.0% 50.0% 2.87
Landon Horne TE 6'3, 240 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7444
Chad Artist WR 6'3, 180 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8008
Alex Byers WR 6'2, 175 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7959
Ron'Quavion Tarver WR 6'3, 205 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8000
Craig Rucker WR 5'8, 165 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893

6. Who's catching the deep balls?

Last year's USU offense had a relatively QB-friendly approach -- the Aggies threw slightly more than the national average on standard downs and ran more than average on passing downs. And in Hunter Sharp and tight end Wyatt Houston, they also had a couple of strong efficiency weapons to deploy on first down.

Houston returns, but Sharp and Devonte Robinson, the top two targets at wide receiver, do not. And considering how much experience in the receiving corps seems to matter, that's a scary prospect.

Junior (and former star recruit) Braelon Roberts could step into a solid possession role; among semi-frequent targets, his 56 percent success rate was easily the best, even if he only averaged 8.8 yards per catch. But Sharp was USU's rock, and Robinson was the big-play guy. I'm not sure where the big plays come from now. A three-star youngster like sophomore Tyler Fox or redshirt freshman Chad Artist? A JUCO transfer like Alex Byers (who, like Sharp, comes from Antelope Valley JC) or Ron'Quavion Tarver?

Myers was at times quite effective at mixing in early-down bombs with the run game. Does he have a downfield threat this year?

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 102.4 2.66 2.95 37.7% 60.5% 24.3% 134.0 3.4% 7.4%
Rank 62 104 93 84 102 116 32 33 64
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Jake Simonich RT 6'5, 300 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7838 13 28
Austin Stephens C 6'3, 305 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7800 13 27
Taani Fisilau RG 12 24
Tyshon Mosley LG 6'5, 305 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7847 9 20
Austin Albrecht LT 6'5, 295 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 13 15
Ben Wysocki LG 5 5
Preston Brooksby LT 6'5, 285 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7759 0 0
Jarom Ioane C 6'6, 330 Jr. NR NR 0 0
KJ Uluave RG 6'5, 280 So. NR NR 0 0
Cody Boyer RT 6'6, 275 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7859 0 0
Brandon Taukeiaho OL 6'3, 310 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7667 0 0
Andrew Chen OL 6'3, 285 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7606 0 0
Jude Hockel OL 6'5, 285 Sr. NR 0.7800 0 0
Sean Taylor OL 6'5, 275 Jr. NR NR 0 0
Demytrick Ali'ifua OL 6'3, 280 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) NR

Villiamu McMoore OL 6'5, 265 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7907


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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.22 51 IsoPPP+ 113.8 28
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 36.4% 20 Succ. Rt. + 114.7 22
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 32.5 17 Off. FP+ 34.1 6
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 5.1 120 Redzone S&P+ 104.1 49
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 18.5 ACTUAL 21.0 +2.5
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 17 23 22 28
RUSHING 47 11 19 12
PASSING 12 36 29 42
Standard Downs 15 20 15
Passing Downs 46 33 58
Q1 Rk 42 1st Down Rk 19
Q2 Rk 46 2nd Down Rk 17
Q3 Rk 41 3rd Down Rk 59
Q4 Rk 7

7. A lot to replace

One day, Utah State was suddenly awesome at defense. After ranking 112th and 90th in Def. S&P+ in Andersen's first two seasons, the Aggies surged to 12th in 2012. And despite the loss of Andersen and stud coordinator Dave Aranda (now LSU's DC), they improved to a stunning fifth in 2013. They lost a ton of contributors but fell to only 32nd in 2014, and despite losing Todd Orlando, they improved to 26th in 2015.

It seems this team is destined to be stout on D no matter who's on the field or in the booth. But that theory will get tested in 2016. First, every coordinator changes offers the opportunity of a bad hire or bad move. And then there's the matter of the massive turnover in the front seven.

Wells elected to go the co-coordinator route on defense as well. He promoted cornerbacks coach and passing game coordinator Kendrick Shaver to co-coordinator, then brought Frank Maile back to Logan. Maile was USU's defensive line coach during the 2012-13 breakthrough and spent the last two seasons as Vanderbilt's defensive line coach.

The guys in charge know what it takes to play well at USU. But they'll still need the pieces to do it, and as with 2014, the Aggies face a lot of turnover on the two-deep. Gone are three of last year's top four linemen (including disruptive nose tackle David Moala) and all four primary linebackers. USU's starting LB foursome combined for 42.5 tackles for loss last year; that's a lot to replace, and three of the top six backups are also gone. Yikes.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 111 2.69 2.68 32.8% 66.1% 20.3% 139.8 5.4% 10.6%
Rank 29 36 18 10 68 59 12 54 17
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jordan Nielsen DE 13 39.5 5.7% 5.5 3.0 0 1 0 0
David Moala NG 11 38.0 5.5% 12.5 4.5 0 2 2 0
Travis Seefeldt
(2014)
NG 6'2, 300 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 14 24.0 3.0% 6.0 2.0 0 2 0 0
Ricky Ali'ifua DE 6'2, 285 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7333 12 18.0 2.6% 4.0 3.0 0 0 1 0
John Taylor DE 13 12.0 1.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Siua Taufa DE 6'1, 280 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 13 10.5 1.5% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Edmund Faimalo DE 6'2, 280 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7900 12 9.0 1.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Ian Togiai DE 6'3, 255 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8100 13 7.5 1.1% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Gasetoto Schuster NG 6'0, 280 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7885 10 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Troy Murray DE 6'5, 220 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7793
Caden Andersen NG 6'3, 280 Fr. NR NR








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Nick Vigil ILB 13 106.0 15.4% 13.5 3.0 0 2 1 0
Kyler Fackrell OLB 13 59.5 8.6% 15.0 4.0 0 0 2 1
LT Filiaga ILB 13 51.0 7.4% 2.5 0.0 0 1 1 0
Torrey Green OLB 13 36.0 5.2% 11.5 4.0 1 1 0 0
Chasen Andersen LB 5'11, 220 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7960 13 10.0 1.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Brock Carmen ILB 6'3, 230 Sr. NR NR 13 9.0 1.3% 0.0 0.0 1 0 0 0
Michael Okonkwo OLB 13 5.5 0.8% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jarom Baldomero ILB 13 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Alex Huerta OLB 6'2, 230 Jr. NR NR 12 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
La'Bradford Harold ILB 6 2.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Williams LB 6'2, 230 Sr. NR NR
Leki Uasike LB 5'11, 230 Sr. NR NR
Europa Mataia LB 6'0, 240 Sr. NR NR
Chase Christiansen LB 6'1, 230 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000
Joe Riggins LB 6'2, 210 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8117
Mason Tobeck LB 6'3, 225 RSFr. 2 stars 0.7633
Kevin Meitzenheimer LB 6'1, 220 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8315








8. So much to replace

The return of nose guard Travis Seefeldt, who missed 2015 after a bad car accident, will alleviate the effects of the turnover up front. Between Seefeldt and fellow senior Ricky Ali'fua, the Aggies have at least a couple of semi-proven pieces. And senior end Siua Taufa made a couple of plays when given the opportunity.

The real concern here is behind the line. Utah State has had a disruptive linebacking corps for the entirety of this run, and last year's was particularly strong.

Of the 10 linebackers who made any contribution whatsoever, only three are back, and sophomore Chasen Andersen (Gary's son) is the only one who hit even 10 tackles. There are seniors who have been waiting their turn (Brock Carmen, Anthony Williams, Leki Uasike, Europa Mataia), along with some well-regarded youngsters (Joe Riggins, incoming three-star Kevin Meitzenheimer). Wells felt solid enough that he didn't sign JUCO replacements.

Still, last year's production was immense. There almost has to be a drop-off.

There is one saving grace. USU returns some strong field position components in kicker Jake Thompson, punter Aaron Dalton, and two strong return men (Kennedy Williams, Andrew Rodriguez). So opponents will likely have to drive a long way to score, at least.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Marwin Evans SS 13 53.0 7.7% 10 2 1 5 2 0
Jalen Davis CB 5'10, 175 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 13 41.5 6.0% 3 1 3 8 1 0
Devin Centers FS 5'9, 200 Sr. NR NR 13 37.5 5.4% 0 0 3 2 0 0
Dallin Leavitt (BYU) SS 5'11, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8121 11 37.0 4.7% 3.5 1.5 0 1 0 0
Deshane Hines CB 12 29.5 4.3% 0 0 0 6 1 0
Tyler Floyd FS 13 29.0 4.2% 2.5 1 0 3 0 1
Jontrell Rocquemore SS 6'1, 200 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7683 13 21.5 3.1% 2 0 0 1 1 1
Bryant Hayes CB 9 15.0 2.2% 1 1 0 1 0 0
Daniel Gray CB 5'11, 180 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8292 12 10.5 1.5% 0.5 0 0 1 0 0
Jentz Painter CB 5'8, 175 Sr. NR NR 13 9.0 1.3% 0.5 0.5 1 1 0 0
Aaron Wade SS 6'1, 200 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7593 13 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Marquan Ellison CB 5'11, 190 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7500
Wesley Bailey CB 6'2, 190 Jr. NR 0.8367
Cameron Haney CB 5'11, 180 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8425
Antonio Cole CB 6'1, 175 So. 2 stars (5.4) NR
Makiah Gilmer CB 6'1, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8115
Zach Swenson S 6'1, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) NR








9. Not quite as many worries in the back

If there's a saving grace, it's that the secondary is in decent shape. USU must replace two starters in wrecking ball Marwin Evans and corner Deshane Hines. But BYU transfer Dallin Leavitt should ease the loss of Evans, and a few others got decent experience: sophomore safeties Jontrell Rocquemore and Aaron Wade, senior corners Daniel Gray and Jentz Painter in particular, etc. JUCO Antonio Cole enters the mix and has earned rave reviews in spring ball.

Plus, the secondary isn't a blank slate. Corner Jalen Davis combined three tackles for loss with 11 passes defensed, and Devin Centers has 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four picks, and 12 breakups over the last two years. If the front seven does its job (and that's a much bigger "if" than normal), the secondary should hold up.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Aaron Dalton 6'4, 220 So. 72 41.3 3 29 26 76.4%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Jake Thompson 6'0, 215 Sr. 67 63.4 38 2 56.7%
Brock Warren 6'2, 180 Sr. 4 56.3 1 0 25.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Brock Warren 6'2, 180 Sr. 39-42 6-8 75.0% 2-3 66.7%
Jake Thompson 6'0, 215 Sr. 7-7 0-2 0.0% 3-4 75.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Kennedy Williams KR 5'8, 160 Sr. 12 30.6 0
Hunter Sharp KR 7 35.4 1
Andrew Rodriguez PR 5'10, 185 Sr. 26 9.9 1
Hunter Sharp PR 10 6.4 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 91
Field Goal Efficiency 109
Punt Return Success Rate 10
Kick Return Success Rate 75
Punt Success Rate 51
Kickoff Success Rate 43

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
1-Sep Weber State NR 25.8 93%
10-Sep at USC 8 -20.0 12%
17-Sep Arkansas State 89 7.8 67%
24-Sep Air Force 80 4.8 61%
1-Oct at Boise State 36 -11.1 26%
8-Oct at Colorado State 96 3.6 58%
22-Oct Fresno State 94 9.2 70%
29-Oct San Diego State 55 0.2 51%
5-Nov at Wyoming 110 8.8 69%
12-Nov New Mexico 102 12.6 77%
19-Nov at Nevada 91 1.5 53%
26-Nov at BYU 35 -11.2 26%
Projected wins: 6.6
Five-Year F/+ Rk 15.1% (38)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 104 / 107
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* -3 / -5.7
2015 TO Luck/Game +1.0
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 49% (57%, 41%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 6.8 (-0.8)

10. The soft schedule will help

This might not be your typical Utah State. This could be the Aggies' best offense since 2012 and their worst defense since 2011.

Though the receiving corps is a concern, Myers is a potentially awesome quarterback with a nice running back and an experienced offensive line.

But while you don't get very far doubting the Utah State defense, it's hard not to be concerned about the front seven. The coaching will be sound, and there are plenty of seniors on the two-deep, but the disruption lost will be nearly impossible for new starters to replace.

USU is projected a conservative 73rd. That means a bowl isn't a guarantee (especially with road trips to USC, Boise State, BYU, and Colorado State), but with seven opponents projected 89th or worse and a win probability of at least 51 percent in nine games, the odds are solid.

So consider this a regrouping year. Figure out what Myers can do, expect him to raise the bar as a senior, arrange a new linebacking corps, and hopefully wreak havoc in 2017 after a fifth straight bowl appearance in 2016.