WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Wade Denniston, who covers Utah State football for the Logan Herald-Journal, about Friday’s
game with the University of Wyoming. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
Follow on Twitter: @wdhiker
Look for Q&As with beat writers that cover UW football opponents every week throughout the season.
How does a team that loses its top three quarterbacks to injuries and be 6-3 overall, 3-1 in the Mountain West and in the hunt for a conference title? Who will play quarterback this week, and what does that say about the program in place there?
Kent Myers, a true freshman, will start at quarterback. He made his first career start last Saturday night against Hawaii and completed 14 of 15 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Utah State took some major blows with injuries last season, and it suffered even more season-ending injuries to starters this year. The Aggies learned to handle adversity a year ago and it’s carried over into this season, as well, which says a lot about the program and how coach Matt Wells and his staff work through those type of things. Utah State has a saying, “next man up,” which has especially been the case at quarterback.
Nick Vigil has turned into a great two-way player as a linebacker and a running back. What was the decision to play him at running back earlier this season, and will we continue to see that — even though he’s been injured lately?
The Aggies weren’t getting any production out of the running back spot earlier this season, so Wells had to do something. This was in the works with Vigil during fall camp, but he was a little dinged up there, as well, so they shelved it until the bye week and broke it out for the Brigham Young game. During his high school career Vigil amassed 3,653 rushing yards, so him running the ball — and running it effectively — is nothing new. I’m sure if Wells thinks Vigil can continue to produce both ways, he will continue to use him that way.
Statistically, the Aggies have one of the best defenses in the Mountain West. What makes it so good, and it is vulnerable in any way?
Utah State tends to give up the big play at times in the passing game, but other than that, it is rock-solid defensively. Each and every Aggie defender is a ball-hawk and runs to the ball. The defensive line does a great job eating up blocks, which allows guys like Zach Vigil and Nick Vigil to make plays from the linebacker spot. Utah State is extremely fast, athletic and physical on defense.
What are your impressions of sixth-year Aggies passing game
coordinator/receivers coach Jovon Bouknight, a former Wyoming player and among the school’s all-time greats? How important has he been to the success of the program the last few years?
In my dealings with Bouknight, he’s been an absolute class act and a great coach for the receiving corps. He’s mentored guys like Matt Austin and Chuck Jacobs, who both earned all-Western Athletic Conference honors in 2012. The Aggie offense has set numerous records since Bouknight’s been in the program, and records are nothing new to him. He’s a great guy and coach, and the Aggies are fortunate enough to have him on their staff.
How do you see Friday’s game unfolding? Will Utah State have heavy legs having played at Hawaii last Saturday, and what’s your predicted final score?
I know Wyoming is coming off a tremendous win over Fresno State, so it is riding high and playing extremely well as of late. Utah State also is playing extremely well and coming off a big road win at Hawaii. With a red-hot running back and red-hot defense this game features a very intriguing matchup, but I think defense will be the deciding factor and the Aggies have one of the best in the nation. Based on that, I will say Utah State 24, Wyoming 13. I have been known to be wrong before, though!
Cowboys game day
Game: Utah State (6-3 overall, 3-1 Mountain West) at Wyoming (4-5, 2-3)
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, Laramie
Radio: KFBC (1240 AM) Cheyenne; KOWB (1290 AM) Laramie
Tickets: Brown & Gold Outlet, 1802 Dell Range Blvd.; gowyo.com; UW Athletics Ticket Office, 877-996-3261