LOGAN — When Utah State quarterback Jason Shelley takes his first snap under center Saturday, a few things will be a bit different.
First off, he'll be wearing Aggie blue — not Utah crimson — after transferring to Utah State, and he'll be surrounded by new teammates (as well as some old ones). But even with the newness, there will still be a high comfort level for Shelley, who was named the team's starter Monday when he leads the Aggies against Boise State on Saturday, because, well, in many ways he's done this before, too.
"I feel pretty confident. I believe in the guys, they believe in me," Shelley said. "I'm going out there with complete confidence ready to showcase my skills against Boise."
It's not easy to replace Jordan Love, who went on to become a first-round draft pick in the NFL, but Shelley knows a little bit about replacing a star QB. In his freshman year at Utah, Shelley was thrown into the spotlight when Tyler Huntley went down with a season-ending injury. He won his first three starts, including a win over Oregon and a big comeback victory over rival BYU, and then led Utah to the Pac-12 Championship game.
So starting a season against perennial power Boise State on its famous (or infamous) blue turf, won't be too big of a moment for the Texas native.
How to Watch, Listen & Stream
Utah State (0-0) at Boise State (0-0)
Date: Saturday, October 24, 2020
Kickoff: 5:00 pm MT
Radio: 1280 / 97.5 The Zone
Stream: Fox Sports Go
"I learned a lot from Utah," Shelley said. "I learned a lot about competing every day. I had to go out there and compete every day just to earn the No. 2 job, so that came with a lot of experience and just being able to lead. I've kind of grown into more of a leader since I've gone from Utah. I know what it's like. I learned from Tyler Huntley at Utah, and I just felt like I need to bring it over to Aggie Nation."
But while that experience will help Shelley, it's not the reason Utah State head coach Gary Andersen has pegged him to be the starter. It's a good thing he's already well-versed in competing for a spot because that contest isn't over yet. Andersen said he expects both Shelley and sophomore Andrew Peasley to see game action this weekend — and who knows how long that competition will go on.
"I think that should be the first part of this, is that Jason's done a good job. And I think that Andrew's done a good job also," Andersen said. "There has been some back and forth, which we expect. And they both want to play and they both want to compete. Jason will go out and take the next snap, but it's not off the table at all to have Andrew come in and play. And I think they both deserve an opportunity to have a chance to be able to compete."
In his college career thus far, Shelley has thrown for 1,205 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions on 104-for-179 passing. He's also run for 223 yards and four scores. Shelley sees himself as a true dual-threat quarterback. If the Aggies need him to pass, he can do that. If they need him to help in the run game, he can do that, too.
"I see my role being just pretty much whatever the game plan has planned for the day," he said. "If we feel like we can run the ball effectively, I can add to that. If we have to throw it in the air 3,040 times a game, I can do that, too."
In his first two years in Logan, Peasley has seen action in four games and has thrown only 10 passes. He does, though, already have 159 yards rushing in his career.
Senior safety Shaq Bond, who has seen plenty of both quarterbacks, said the Aggies were confident in whoever is under center.
"Both of them in practice make great throws, great decisions. Whoever starts, whoever goes out there first or second, whatever the case may be, we feel like we're in good hands with either one," Bond said.
That is far from a bad thing. Andersen said that with the uncertainty that is looming around the 2020 campaign — with COVID-19 and the late start — it's maybe more important than ever to have multiple players ready at each position.
"It's not just a cliche," he said. "It's more so this year than any year, everybody needs to be able to play. But we expect both quarterbacks to be able to play, and we're excited to see how they handle the game day and how they handle their team."