Monday, May 17, 2010
Spring superlatives: Utah State
By Graham Watson
Wrapping up the WAC’s spring superlatives is Utah State. The Aggies had a great offense last year, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a terrible defense, which contributed to the Aggies' 4-8 finish. However, there is optimism this year that Utah State can make its first bowl game since 1997 and put the team back on the WAC map.
Here’s a look at the strongest and weakest positions for Utah State this spring:
Strongest position: Running back
Key returners: Junior Robert Turbin (207 carries, 1,296 yards, 13 touchdowns), senior Michael Smith (46 carries, 290 yards, four touchdowns), senior Derrvin Speight (42 carries, 210 yards, two touchdowns)
Key departures: None.
The skinny: The running game took a big hit this offseason when Turbin tore his ACL. It’s unknown how long he will be out -- speculation ranges from a couple of games to the entire season -- but three running backs have carried the load in Turbin’s stead. Smith, Speight and Kerwynn Williams all bring different traits to the field and coach Gary Andersen said he’d probably need all three to fill the void Turbin left. However, the running game appears to be the deepest position on the field next to the receiving corps.
Weakest position: Secondary
Key returners: Senior Rajric Coleman (74 tackles, two interceptions), senior Chris Randle (53 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack), senior Chris Marsh (32 tackles, five passes defended), junior Walter McClendon (33 tackles, one interception)
Key departures: James Brindley (78 tackles, three interceptions), Kejon Murphy (26 tackles, two interceptions)
The skinny: Utah State’s pass defense ranked 101st in the country giving up 249.58 yards per game last season. Coach Gary Andersen challenged that group to get better this spring and it's still a work in progress. Cornerback Chris Randle had a great spring, but the rest of the secondary still has a ways to go. The depth was bolstered with the return of Jamaine Olson, who started two games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and junior college transfers Alfred Bowden and Gavin Jones. Walter McClendon, who played in seven games last season, could have a major impact as a starter this year.