LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – After a 3-9 season, their worst in eight years, the Utah State football team knows most people are writing them off in 2017.
The Aggies, whose 5-year bowl game streak was snapped, were picked to finish last in the Mountain Division at Mountain West Conference Media Days in Las Vegas.
“Some of that was given to us based on that performance, so I get it,” said head coach Matt Wells. “I also think the members of the media that voted for that are human too. Last year, the team that was in that same spot won the Mountain Division.”
You can tell the Aggies are angered by the media poll and are using it as motivation.
“I take it as disrespect,” said safety Dallin Leavitt. “I feel, and I know that our team feels that we’re a lot better than that.”
“That’s something that gives us a chip on our shoulder,” added quarterback Kent Myers. “We have nothing to lose. We’re just going out there ready to prove to everybody that we’ve got something coming this year.”
If the Aggies are going to improve from 3-9, Myers has to play better. After a sensational sophomore season in which he threw for 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions, Myers took a step back last year as a junior, throwing for just 10 touchdowns, eight interceptions and completed only 58 percent of his passes.
“I just learned to block out all the outside noise and just go out there and play my game,” Myers said. “Like, you don’t have to say anything. We went 3-9. That says enough. I’m a 3-9 starting quarterback. So, I’m training as hard as I can. I’m training as hard as I can every summer, but this year I’m taking it personally.”
It’s not like Utah State wasn’t competitive in 2016. Four of their losses were by a touchdown or less.
“You have got to find a way to win close games,” Wells said. “You’re not always going to play your A-game or your A-plus game. But you’ve got to find a way to find a way to win, find a way to win early in the season which gives you a little bit more confidence and little bit more mojo.”
“I think that’s a very different feel this year,” said Leavitt. “I think people understand that it’s time to finish games, it’s time to start out strong and it’s time to put complete games together.”
Utah State kicks off the 2017 season September 1st at Wisconsin.