Utah State football: Aggies’ season ends in First Responder Bowl

Utah State University’s 2022 college football season has come to an end.

The Aggies thrashed the Memphis Tigers 38-10 in the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl at the SMU campus in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday.

Admittedly, that’s not really justice.

Utah State (6-7) was utterly and utterly beaten by Memphis (7-6) in nearly every aspect of the game.

Memphis easily outpaced USU in offense from 430 yards to 261 yards.

The Tigers also rushed for more yards (146 to 126), nearly doubled the number of first downs (26 to 15), and had better third downs (5 of 13 vs. 7 of 14) and made more plays (76 to 58). , forced more turnovers (three interceptions compared to one fumble), and well, the list could go on and on.

Outside of the first and third quarters, the Tigers were simply in a different class than the Aggies when it could be argued that USU played Memphis more or less evenly.

“Overall, we didn’t match well with them physically and didn’t play the best ball,” said Utah State head coach Blake Anderson.

“We weren’t able to produce enough offense to really give us a chance to win. We were understaffed in some areas and didn’t have the scale and power to get it done.”

Put another way, with Aggie pushing back Calvin Tyler Jr., “they were the better team today and they had to do everything right to win. It didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.”

Utah was in the game from time to time. The Aggies trailed by just three points at the end of the first quarter. The deficit was quickly closed by a field goal from Conor Coles.

Memphis then had 21 unanswered points as quarterback Seth Hennigan carved the Aggies secondary multiple times (Hennigan finished the game with 284 passing yards and three touchdowns). .

“It didn’t cover well,” Anderson said. “I gave up too many explosive throws.

And while the Memphis offense worked in favor of the USU defense, the Aggies offense failed to return the favor. The problem persisted throughout the game on Coles’ outside of the field drive that led to his goal and a late drive. The Aggies’ only touchdown of the day.

“I just couldn’t get anything offensive,” Anderson said. There was no rhythm that day, we looked confused.

“I thought[quarterback Cooper Regus]struggled to see what was coming down the field and sometimes struggled to defend. Yes, it was an aggressively frustrating year considering what we were able to do a year ago. This is where we have to improve.”

Legas didn’t play the entire game—he was knocked out with a right leg injury—and when he did, he struggled, taking up only 59 yards of offense, 35 in the air, and 24 on the ground. I did.

Freshman Bishop Davenport didn’t do so well, though he led the Aggies to their only touchdown, a 44-yard reception by wide receiver Brian Cobbs.

Other than Tyler Jr., who rushed for 79 yards and became the 11th player in school history to rush for 2,000 yards in his USU career, the Aggies offense has done absolutely nothing.

“We couldn’t sustain anything offensively,” said Anderson. “Turnovers, sacks and stalled plays put us too far behind the chain.

“With the good teams we were playing against and the big physical groups, we rarely played explosively all day. Yes, and honestly, all but a few games I had to play better than the entire season.”

Utah State’s only bright spot was its defense, which posted season-highs in sacks (5) and tackles for loss (14), but Anderson was quick to point out the group’s inconsistencies as well.

“We played really well in spurts,” he said. “I didn’t keep the gap well along the way.”

Linebacker AJ Vongwhachan had arguably the best one-game performance of his career. Although he finished with a career-high 2.5 tackles and a team-high 9 tackles, he was also quick to point out the Aggies’ blunders.

“They used one-on-one. We weren’t doing it,” says Vongphachanh. “A lot of the big plays, I have a lot of responsibility.

Utah State was short-handed — the off-time between the regular season finale and bowl game against Boise State helped the team recover from short-term injuries, but it was clear that Aggie was on the defensive line. It wasn’t a season-ending thing that depleted the — and continued to rely heavily on inexperienced youth.

Ultimately, however, Anderson believed that his team was only physically beating Memphis and needed to be perfect to win the game.

It obviously didn’t happen.

“They’re big and well-made. We knew that,” Anderson said of Memphis. “They recruit big and are long on the edge and outside. We knew it was going to be a challenge, and it was a challenge we couldn’t overcome.

“We had what we had and we knew the matchup was not in our favor. I couldn’t.”

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