LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – Jordan Love had a breakout season in 2018, and this year even bigger things are expected of Utah State’s junior quarterback.
Love was named the Mountain West Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while the Aggies were picked to finish second in the Mountain Division behind Boise State.
The only other time Utah State has had a player named the Mountain West Preseason Offensive Player of the Year was when Chuckie Keeton was voted as such prior to the 2014 season, while Kyler Fackrell was voted the MW’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year prior to the 2015 campaign.
Other Aggies joining Love on this year’s preseason all-MW team include senior defensive end Tipa Galeai, senior cornerback DJ Williams, junior kickoff returner Savon Scarver and junior linebacker David Woodward.
Utah State’s five players named to the 25-member Mountain West preseason team are tied with Boise State for the most in the league. San Diego State had four players recognized, followed by Fresno State (3), Air Force (2), Nevada (2), Colorado State (1), Hawai’i (1), UNLV (1) and Wyoming (1).
Love, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder from Bakersfield, Calif. (Liberty HS), earned second-team all-Mountain West honors in 2018 as he set five school records with 32 touchdown passes, 3,567 passing yards, seven 300-yard passing games, 234 points responsible for and being named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week five times. Love also tied the single-season school record with a pair of 400-yard passing games. Furthermore, Love tied the single-game school record for touchdown passes with five against both UNLV and San José State, becoming just the fifth quarterback in school history to accomplish the feat.
Heading into his junior campaign, Love is 396-of-652 (.607) passing for 5,198 yards and 40 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions during his career, and ranks fourth all-time in school history in touchdown passes, tied for fourth in completion percentage, and 10th all-time in passing yards, completions and total offense (5,426).
Utah State is coming off an 11-2 season and a #22 national ranking, received six first place votes, while Boise State got 15 first place votes.
Defending Mountain West Conference champion Fresno State was picked to win the West Division.
Utah State returns nine starters (O-2, D-7) as part of 32 letterwinners (O-13, D-17, S-2), including two All-Americans and eight players that earned various all-Mountain West honors, from last year’s team that ended the season ranked 21st in the final Amway Coaches poll and 22nd in the final Associated Press poll as it tied the school record for wins and best record with an 11-2 mark following its 52-13 win against North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl.
Utah State’s offense finished the 2018 season leading the nation in scoring drives under one minute with 29, was second in the nation in scoring at 47.5 points per game and third in average margin of victory at 25.3 points per game. USU’s offense was also fourth nationally in sacks allowed with 10 (0.77 per game), 11th in total offense (497.4 yards per game), 12th in third down conversion percentage (.473), 14th in passes had intercepted (6) and team passing efficiency (154.39), 17th in passing offense (294.2 yards per game), 20th in completion percentage (.652) and 31st in rushing offense (203.2 ypg).
During the 2018 season, Utah State’s offense set single-season school records with its four 60-point games, seven 50-point games, nine 40-point games, 60-plus points in back-to-back games, 50-plus points in three-straight games, 30-plus points in six straight games to start a season, 40-plus points in five straight games at any point in a season, 700-plus yards of total offense twice, 600-plus yards of total offense four times, 600-plus yards of total offense in three straight games, 52 first-half points versus New Mexico, 20 players with touchdowns, 79 touchdowns, 618 points, 47.5 points per game, 497.4 yards of total offense per game, 32 touchdown passes, 6.07 touchdowns per game, 6,466 yards of total offense, 3,825 passing yards, 303 completions, 6.84 yards per attempt, 164 passing first downs, 10 sacks allowed, 29 scoring drives under one minute, and 804 yards of total offense in a single game versus San José State.
Those 618 points scored in 13 games last season set the Mountain West record, which was previously held by BYU, which scored 608 points in 14 games in 2001.
Utah State’s defense finished the 2018 season leading the nation in turnovers forced with 32, passes intercepted with 22, and three-and-outs forced with 5.69 per game. USU was also second in the nation in non-offensive touchdowns (10), third in turnover margin (+1.08) and defensive touchdowns (6), 10th in blocked kicks (4), 16th in third down conversion percentage defense (.330) and 19th in team passing efficiency defense (113.76).
Defensively, Utah State set three school records in 2018 with its six interception returns for touchdowns, 475 interception return yards and 10 non-offensive touchdowns.
Utah State will open the 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 30, on the ACC Network at Wake Forest at 6 p.m.