LAS VEGAS (ABC 4 Sports) – Utah State football has been picked second in the 2012 Western Athletic Conference preseason polls by both the coaches and media it was announced at the league’s annual media day here in Las Vegas Thursday.
Defending league champion Louisiana Tech was tabbed as the preseason favorite by both the coaches and media after finishing the 2011 season with a 6-1 WAC mark (8-5 overall) and playing in the 2011 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
“It’s great to be respected by your peers in the league and I have a lot of respect for every coach in this conference,” said fourth-year USU head coach Gary Andersen. “However, we don’t put much stock into preseason polls; they don’t get you rings and they don’t get you to bowl games.”
In the coaches’ poll, Louisiana Tech received six of the seven first-place votes and garnered 36 points, while Utah State received one first-place vote and 31 points. San Jose State was picked third in the coaches’ poll with 24 points, followed by New Mexico State (22), Idaho (17), Texas State (10) and UTSA (7).
In the media poll, Louisiana Tech received 25 first-place votes and garnered 193 points, while Utah State received three first-place votes and 164 points. San Jose State was picked third in the media poll with 130 points, followed by Idaho (102), New Mexico State (95), Texas State (57) and UTSA (43).
Utah State concluded the 2011 season winning its final five regular season games to tie for second in the WAC with a 5-2 record and ended the year with a 7-6 overall mark after losing to Ohio, 24-23, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
For Utah State, the 2011 campaign marked its first winning season since 1996 (6-5) and its first bowl game since 1997 (Humanitarian). USU’s seven overall wins and five league victories were the most since 1993 (7-5, 5-1 Big West), while its second-place conference finish was its best since 2000 (2nd/Big West). Furthermore, those five league wins in 2011 were tied for the most in school history, while its seven overall wins are tied for the 10th-most all-time at Utah State.
Entering the 2012 season, Utah State returns 48 lettermen (20-offense; 22-defense; 6-special teams) and 19 starters (8-offense; 6-defense; 5-special teams) including junior center Tyler Larsen (Salt Lake City, Utah/Jordan HS) who earned first-team all-WAC honors a year ago after helping USU set school records for total offense (5,945 yards), rushing yards (3,675), total points (437) and total touchdowns (60).
Other notable offensive starters returning for the Aggies include a pair of quarterbacks in sophomore Chuckie Keeton (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek HS) and senior Adam Kennedy (Elk Grove, Calif./San Joaquin Delta College), along with senior wide receiver Matt Austin (Monrovia, Calif./Mt. San Antonio JC), senior offensive tackle Oscar Molina-Sanchez (Baldwin Park, Calif./Baldwin Park HS) and senior running back Kerwynn Williams (Las Vegas, Nev./Valley HS).
Notable defensive starters returning for Utah State in 2012 include senior safety McKade Brady (Cove, Utah/Sky View HS), senior linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu (West Valley City, Utah/Mt. San Antonio JC), senior defensive lineman Al Lapuaho (West Valley City, Utah/Snow College) and senior cornerback Jumanne Robertson (Chicago, Ill./Phoenix CC).
For the first time since 1996, the Aggies will open a season with back-to-back home games, hosting a pair of in-state foes in Southern Utah on Thursday, Aug. 30 and Utah on Friday, Sept. 7. Both games are slated for 6 p.m. (MT) starts from Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. The Aggies' game against Utah will be on ESPN2.
2012 WAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Louisiana Tech (6) 36
2. UTAH STATE (1) 31
3. San Jose State 24
4. New Mexico State 22
5. Idaho 17
6. Texas State 10
7. UTSA 7
2012 WAC Preseason Media Poll
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Louisiana Tech (25) 193
2. UTAH STATE (3) 164
3. San Jose State 130
4. Idaho 102
5. New Mexico State 95
6. Texas State 57
7. UTSA 43
2012 WAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year (Media)
Quinton Patton, Sr., WR, Louisiana Tech
2012 WAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year (Media)
Travis Johnson, Sr., DL, San Jose State