LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – It has been a rollercoaster ride for the Utah State football team halfway through the 2023 season.
Against Air Force, Utah State fell behind 29-0 before making it a game. The Aggies were down 24-0 to James Madison, came back and tied the game, only to lose, 45-38. Then, USU overcame two 17-0 deficits to beat UConn and Colorado State the last two weeks. It’s that resilience that has impressed head coach Blake Anderson as they get ready to face Fresno State Friday night.
“You’ve seen us not give up in games that are not going the way we wanted them to,” Anderson said. “You’re seeing us fight back. I think all that has to do with the culture that we have, and you’ve got to give the kids credit.”
“Of course we’d love to jump out and not have it be that score immediately,” wide receiver Micah Davis said about the early deficits. “But we’ve instilled confidence in ourselves that after the first quarter, whether it’s a close game or they’ve got some points on us, we can come back and fight until the end.”
Cooper Legas is set to make another start at quarterback in place of McCae Hillstead, who was still suffering concussion symptoms after getting knocked out of the UConn game. Legas overcame a slow start against the Rams to throw for 387 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Anderson said they will not rush Hillstead back.
“We’re not going to put him in harm’s way,” he said. “I’m not going to try and play him without practice reps. I don’t think it’s fair to him or the team, especially for a freshman. Coop did a great job of working through some mistakes early. He did a great job of making plays at the game progressed. We’re planning on playing with him this week. We’ll re-evaluate when the game is over with, and see where we’re at moving into next week.”
Against Colorado State, Utah State had three receivers go over the 100-yard mark in Terrell Vaughn (8 catches, 143 yards, one touchdown), Jalen Royals (6 catches, 142 yards, two touchdowns) and Micah Davis (5 catches, 104 yards, one touchdown) for just the second time in school history.
“It’s pretty great having three guys that can come out and make plays day in and day out,” Davis said. “It really opens up stuff for everybody else as well. That’s honestly why it works out so well, because one guy draws attention one day, and the next guy draws attention the next day.”
Fresno State (5-1) just lost its first game of the season to Wyoming, knocking the Bulldogs out of the top-25 rankings. The Bulldogs are legitimate conference champion contenders, so a win would be enormous for Utah State.
“A win makes everything better,” Anderson said. “Everything tastes better, the pillow is softer, you name it. To be able to play at home on a Friday night, we’re hoping we can build off the crowd that we had. Our kids felt it, and you can see it on our sideline. That is an amazing atmosphere.”
Utah State will go for its third straight win Friday night at 6:00 p.m.