GAME DAY GRADES: Football @ Utah State
Updated: Oct 28
It was a purple letter day in Logan last Saturday, when the Wildcats pulled off a dominant 35-7 win over Utah State. This was the Wildcats' first win over the Aggies since 1978 and their first FBS win since 1993.
Our team put together grades for how we felt after an elating performance that featured big strides on offense and another solid outing from the defense.
Offense (B+): The offense continues to get comfortable and we saw that this week. If you listened to our game day show, you knew that running the ball was going to be key to the game plan. The Wildcats logged 202 of their 401 yards of offense on the ground. Josh Davis was a key piece of that, getting out in space on both the edge and up the middle a few times to record 97 yards. Barron had some poorly thrown balls, resulting in three INT’s, but he got it done when it mattered. The two fade routes to Ty MacPherson for touchdowns are evidence of the potential in Coach Mental’s system. The offensive line also didn’t give up a sack against an FBS opponent, a big jump from last week’s performance. There were miscues, but the offensive seems to get better with reps, which is a welcome sign as the October schedule looms.
Defense (A+): The Wildcat defense continues to both improve and impress. Like Alabama the previous week, Weber State held Utah State scoreless on offense all night. They also put the screws to 6th year Senior QB (and Mountain West Conference Championship game MVP) Logan Bonner, who passed for just 126 yards and three INT’s. The defensive line logged 4 tackles for loss, including two sacks. That’s a marked improvement over the previous week against tougher competition. For me, the secondary is the story of the game. 4 total INT’s, especially at key times. Junior CB Maxwell Anderson nabbed a crucial pick at the goal line right as Utah State was about to score with the first half winding down. That felt like a huge blow to the the Aggies’ confidence heading in to the locker room. Desmond Williams also recorded his first Pick 6 of the season to put the Wildcats up three scores. Big moments from a group we knew would step up.
Special Teams (B): Special Teams was improved this week, with no blocked punts leading to turnovers. The kicking game looked stellar, in spite of Kyle Thompson’s 47 yard FG miss. 47 yards is a fair bit and we can’t feel bad about that. The issue was kickoff coverage against a dangerous returner in Terrell Vaughn. One spin move and the guy was gone. That will need to be cleaned up going forward. But, if they do, the Wildcats will be very difficult defensively.
Offense (A+): Look, we got paid to take USU to the woodshed. Everybody gets an A+ today. (Insert Oprah You get a Car Meme) Bronson looked better today. He made some mistakes, but the Aggies D isn’t their issue. Their D is good. His bomb to T-Mac was incredible. I want more yardage on the runs but we got the yardage when we needed it. There were some redzone issues, but again… we thoroughly beat USU. Let’s not worry too much about the little things. Plenty of weeks to pick this team apart. Today let’s remember 35-7
Defense (A+): What can you say… I got stopped on my way out by some USU employees. After getting over the shock everyone said the defense is the real deal. Remember we are still playing without starters. They’ve not yet given up a touchdown and over 8 quarters have given up 3 points. Oh my they are going to be dangerous. I’m so excited about this team. They are playing so well right now. Can we play tomorrow? I just want to watch what they can do every week.
Special Teams (A+): Look Terrell Vaughn is very fast and very good. The special teams didn’t play well on the play, but they came back big time. The Jack Burgess 2 point conversion was amazing, and then the following kick was incredible. I can’t complain about anything in a 35-7 win. Let’s go bring on Utah Tech and let’s win another.
Offense (B+): They were good. Scheme is coming together. I really like the run game with Josh Davis and Damon Bankston as a one-two punch. I also like the cutback runs that are designed to put Josh Davis in the situation where he runs best, and that is in space. It’s also fun to see what the pass game is going to become, which is a series of slant routes with the option of going fade or out and up when teams commit too much to the slants. It’s really fun. Credit goes to Bronson Barron for some really well-located passes to Ty McPherson. My only hangup on the offense is red zone scoring again. Halftime score could’ve easily been 21-7 in favor of Weber State.
Defense (A): Hard to say that the defense really did anything bad. Our secondary was elite on Saturday night. They shut down receivers that were bigger and faster than most they’ll face in the FCS. A signature of Jay Hill football has been them winning the turnover battle and the Defense has been the driving force of this happening through two games this season. If it continues Weber will be in a great place to win a lot of games.
Special Teams (B): The punt team was significantly better this week, so credit for that. Our punter has a leg as well, which will help as the season progresses to flip the field and keep the defense in a great position to succeed. The only knock on special teams was giving up the kick return for a TD... but even that felt like a fluke play... but the fluke spin move that opened the field happened because of a missed tackle. Props for the trick-play 2 point conversion. I’m a firm believer that those plays show on the scoreboard, but the excitement that they bring to the team and fans have a much larger effect than what is shown on the scoreboard.
Offense (A): This grade is entirely based upon how impressed I was by the 18 play, 86 yard, 3rd quarter drive that put the ‘Cats up 21-7. That drive took 9:29 off the clock, and featured 6(!) 3rd down conversions. The previous Wildcat drive ended with an interception, so to come back and put together what is the best drive of the season shows that these Cats have heart and grit. This TD was when I believed that the Cats would be able to hold on for the victory. Another thing that stands out to me for the O, Weber was 5-5 in the red zone!
Defense (A): So far, one could argue that this is the best defense of the Jay Hill era. Call me Homer Hyperbole, but any team that doesn’t give up an offensive TD for 8 quarters to start a season is doing something correctly. The D held the cows to 2-15 on third down and had 4 INT’s, one being a pick 6. Just a dominant performance.
Special Teams (B) I wrote last week that “any time special teams gives away points they don’t get a passing grade from me.” Forget that. I’m so pumped about this win, that I’ll forgive special teams for giving up the KO return for a TD.