LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – After a disastrous 2020 season, expectations are not very high for the Utah State football team in 2021. The Aggies were picked to finish in fifth place in the Mountain Division at Mountain West Conference Media Days in Las Vegas.
New head coach Blake Anderson knows he has his work cut out for him in order to turn the Aggies into a contender again.
“I don’t know how competitive we are on the field yet,” Anderson said. “It’s difficult to rebuild. You want it to happen quickly. Typically the process takes much longer than you want to. Add in the factors that come with the pandemic and all those things. There’s an asterisk next to last year, and I think we’ve got to be smart about that and not dwell on that. It’s not completely broken. I think we’re going to give people trouble this fall, I think we’re going to be right in the mix.”
Everything went wrong for the Aggies a year ago. Head coach Gary Anderson got fired, quarterback Jason Shelley was dismissed from the team, number of other players left the program, and the Aggies forfeited their last game after comments made by the school president.
In came Anderson, who spent the last seven years at Arkansas State, to help turn the program around. Anderson brought three players from the Red Wolves, including quarterback Logan Bonner, who will compete with last year’s starter Andrew Peasley for the starting job.
“Being the hardest worker on the field, being the hardest worker in the room, most prepared, Peasley and Bonner both have the ability to do that,” Anderson said. “I know Bonner’s got more reps under his belt, but Peasley has done a phenomenal job this offseason.”
Anderson is hoping one of those two emerge as the clear-cut starter sometime during training camp.
“We clearly want to have one guy be the starter when we play,” Anderson said. “I’ve dealt with the two starters for Covid purposes last year, and I would not go do that again.”
The Aggies are also counting on a bounce-back year from running back Devontae Henry-Cole. Utah State’s most prolific player is Savon Scarver, who with six career kick returns for touchdowns, is one of the most dynamic players in the nation.
“Well, the ability to change the field in one play,” Anderson said. “Not everybody has that. He does clearly, and he proved that as an All-American last year. I think what we’ve got to do is we got to make him a more well rounded player. We’ve got to see him get the ball more in other spaces.”
So what will we see from the Aggies this season? Well, at the very least, an improvement from last year.
“This is a place I know you can win,” Anderson said. “At what level is that going to be? Is that a level that’s never been done before? It’s that conference championships? Is that bowl games? It looks different every year, but you can be successful there. That’s why I took the job.”
The Aggies kick off the 2021 season September 4th at Washington State.