Overview of the Opponent of Wyoming: State of Utah ushering in the era of Blake Anderson | national


LARAMIE – Wyoming’s final stretch of road of the 2021 season will feature back-to-back games against teams starting a new regime.

After facing Andy Avalos’ Boise State team in mid-November, the Cowboys will travel eight days later to the state of Utah, which ushers in a new era under Blake Anderson. Gary Andersen’s sacking after the Aggies started 0-3 last season left the program in need of a head coach, and Anderson was hired out of Arkansas State after the season.

UW and Utah State will face off at Maverik Stadium on November 20, their first meeting since the 2019 season. Last year’s game was called off due to coronavirus concerns.

Anderson went 51-37 with six winning seasons in his seven years in Arkansas State and will look to bring that success to a Utah State program that returned to Earth after his season. of 11 wins in 2018. The Aggies have gone 8-11 the past two seasons, including only one win a season ago.

It was especially tough on offense last season in the first year of the post-Jordan Love era. The Aggies averaged less than 280 yards and 15.5 points per game. These are the kinds of numbers that Anderson, North Carolina’s offensive coordinator before landing at Arkansas State, will want to improve quickly, but he and first-year offensive coordinator Anthony Tucker will need to sort it out first. quarterback situation.

Jason Shelley, who coached Utah State last season, was transferred after being fired from the team. Youngsters Andrew Peasley (five games played last season) and Cooper Legas are back, but Anderson brought his own quarterback with him on the transfer Logan Bonner, who completed 60% of his passes in 11 games for the Arkansas State last season and could very well be the competition favorite.

The Aggies offense received good news when main receiver Deven Thompkins took his name off the transfer gate and decided to stay put, and Utah State left their offensive line intact. Principal rusher Jaylen Warren has left for Oklahoma State, so the Aggies will need a new star return to emerge. It could be Oregon State transfer Calvin Tyler Jr., and senior Devonta’e Henry-Cole is also still in the backfield.

Utah State is also in urgent need of defensive improvement – the Aggies finished in Mountain West’s last three in yards and runs last season – and the return of their top nine tackles should help. The second tier is particularly loaded with experience with lead tackle AJ Vongphachanh, senior Kevin Meitzenheimer and Arkansas State transfer Justin Rice, who started his college career at Fresno State as linebacker.

The defensive line is young, but senior defensive tackle Marcus Moore is a veteran present in the middle. In high school, the Aggies have one of the best safeties in the conference at Shaq Bond, the team’s second-best tackle last season, who also recorded three breakouts and one team-high interception.

And when it comes to special teams, Utah State has as good a kicking return as any in the country. Senior Savon Scarver was an All-American in that role during his time with the Aggies, averaging nearly 29 yards per return for his career. His six career touchdown returns are an academic record and are tied for fifth in NCAA history.

Scarver is a bona fide weapon capable of changing the momentum of a game, but Utah State will need significant improvements in the other two facets of the game if it is to fight in Mountain West in Season 1. ‘Anderson.

Follow UW Athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.


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