LOGAN — Utah State faced BYU Saturday night in what one of their wide receivers called their biggest rivalry game. After a two-year winning streak for the Aggies, they finally fell to BYU 42-14 at home.
For three of the past four games, Utah State has fallen to its opponents and only managed to score two or less touchdowns in each game. Speculation about the team's offensive problems started as early as the season opener: was it the offensive line, receivers or quarterback that was at fault?
With the loss on Saturday, the frustration about the offense only got louder; but this time, it was in the direction of the coaching staff. Is it a problem with the team's play-calling and game management?
That question has a lot of implications considering that head coach Gary Andersen is in the middle of a return to Utah State and has a lot to prove to the team and supporters of the program that went 11-2 last season under Matt Wells.
But Andersen isn’t one to shy away from taking responsibility; if anything, he is more concerned about keeping the blame away from his starting quarterback Jordan Love.
As easy as it is to direct the frustration at the quarterback when there were three interceptions (each turned into touchdowns for BYU) in Saturday's game, junior wide receiver Jordan Nathan said he didn't think Love was to blame for the picks.
“Sometimes you see the end of it and think you know what the problem is,” Nathan said. “But he could have a hole in the O-line that made him nervous, or something else. I wouldn’t trade Jordan Love for any quarterback in the nation.”
Andersen vouched for Love in the same way the past three weeks even though Love has thrown more interceptions in the past three games than in any of his previous two seasons.
Against BYU, the three interceptions aside, Love was completing 60% of his passes and had a total of 394 passing yards — more than triple what he threw in the previous two losses. That type of improvement is enough to keep a coaching staff confident in a quarterback.
So while the questions arise about Love and the offense, Andersen is quick to not only deflect Love criticism but to take responsibility for the team. He said they'll look to film to see what they can fix as coaches.
As of Saturday night, though, Andersen said his team will need to mostly work on finishing drives and limiting turnovers.
“We got some things going, but we have to finish drives and we can’t turn it over. We got yards out there, so we saw significant improvement from the last couple of weeks on offense, but you didn’t see us finish drives because we turned it over or had a big sack,” Andersen said. “We’re going to come back fighting. We’re going to learn from it.”
The Aggies enter a tough part of its schedule, with Fresno State coming up Saturday. They then have back-to-back home games against Wyoming and Boise State before wrapping up the regular season at New Mexico.