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LOGAN -- The Utah State Aggies fell in difficult fashion again this week, this time to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The Aggies found the proverbial banana peel in the form of penalties and missed tackles. Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin continued to call a conservative ballgame and the Aggies were unable to move the ball down the field when they needed to to come away with the win. The Aggies now fall to 2-5 on the season.
Observation 1: The Aggies and the Bulldogs played a sloppy game. La Tech never seemed to be in sync the entire game and Utah State continually shot themselves in the foot. the Bulldog's freshman quarterback Nick Isham missed several receivers by wide margins and was eventually pulled in favor of junior Colby Cameron in the third quarter.
For the Aggies, they were flagged a total of seven times for a loss of 70 yards including several snap infractions on sophomore venter Tyler Larsen. Louisiana Tech also finished with seven penalties for 67 yards. The Aggie offensive line struggled against La Tech allowing Keeton to be sacked twice, forced him to scramble (on multiple occasions his scramble gains were called back due to holding penalties) and gave up several big hits on Keeton. Early in the fourth quarter Keeton was forced to scramble out of the pocket and while going for the first down took another bit hit and came up limping. Keeton returned, but with an obvious limp. The Aggie offensive line has to protect better if they want to win games in the future.
Observation 2: Utah State has a very talented defensive front seven. The Aggie defensive linemen and linebackers were able to hold Louisiana Tech senior running back Lennon Creer to 62 yards on 17 carries, averaging 3.6 yards per carry (Creer averages 4.2 yards per carry on the season). Creer would have had less yards, but the Aggie defense constantly missed tackles in the open field and allowed Creer to either get back to the line of scrimmage or run for positive yards.
The problem the Aggies had against the Bulldogs was their pass coverage. It's easy to say that La Tech quarterback Nick Isham finished 10 for 22 for just 63 yards, but that doesn't show how Isham consistently missed wide open receivers. Isham's backup junior Colby Cameron managed to finish 4 of 6 for 38 yards and forced USU's defensive backs into pass interference penalties that led to Bulldog scores. When it came down to it at the end of the game, sloppy or not, the Aggies defense came up with the stops they needed for, what could have been, the Aggie victory.
Observation 3: The Aggies have a hard time winning when junior running back Kerwynn Williams is neutralized on special teams. La Tech junior punter Ryan Allen had a great game for the Bulldogs. While no head coach wants his punter kicking eight times, Allen made it a little easier for Bulldog head coach Sonny Dykes averaging 52.2 yards per kick and placing the ball within the Aggie 20 yard line seven times. Allen's booming kicks forced Williams to call for the fair catch or simply let the ball bounce and hope for the best. Williams finished with four kick returns for 107 yards and 1 punt return for -3 yards.
The special teams play that really hurt the Aggies was late in the fourth quarter when USU junior punter Tyler Bennett muffed the snap and then kicked the ball off the ground for an illegal touch penalty that caused a loss of down and put Louisiana Tech on the Aggie 11-yard line. Utah State held the Bulldogs to a 24-yard field goal from junior Matt Nelson. That sealed the game for the Bulldogs.
Observation 4: The Aggies continue to be conservative on offense which forces the defense to be on the field for much longer then they should be. If Utah State wants to win and progress as a program there may be a coaching change or two in their future. Something has to give.