SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State will travel to Pullman, Washington, to take on the Washington State Cougars in the program's season opener Saturday, and the first game with Blake Anderson as head coach.
With the turnover on staff for the Aggies, Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich has spent the preparation leading up to the game watching Arkansas State film, where Anderson was last a coach.
"I do think that brings a little more of a challenge," Rolovich said, speaking to media earlier this week. "Especially because he brought some guys that he worked with, from other different programs, so it definitely led to us studying a bunch of different people."
Rolovich added that there will be "good discussions" with his coaching staff on game day once the team gets more of an understanding of Utah State will be this season. Regardless, he believes his program will be ready and has a decent understanding of what the Aggies will try to do.
"We are pretty confident they will use a high level tempo, so preparing for that has been emphasized," Rolovich said.
The second-year coach at Washington State singled out Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner and wide receivers Justin McGriff and Savon Scarver as guys that are "not afraid of taking shots" on offense.
"They're not afraid of running the ball or trying to get you out of position and taking advantage of it," he said. "I think the QB did a really good job at Ark State, ran that system really well, and I think he's a good player. I think there's some definite weapons that coach Anderson came into, whether it's the McGriff kid or Scarver, they've got some talented guys."
Defensively, Rolovich expects a lot of pressure from Utah State, especially on third down — something he attributes to their high-tempo style of play.
More important than focusing on what the Aggies will bring, Rolovich is focused on his defense, which struggled in 2020, as the program looks to limit the Aggies from taking big shots.
"I think conditioning wise, the defense and keeping their wits about them as things go fast," Rolovich said. "I think that will be important in that back seven, getting in a line and making sure we're covering down and just obeying the rules of the defense.
"We're going to have to tackle really well in space. They like to try and get their guys in space, making sure we get them down, and be ready for the shots. They're not afraid to take shots, and at least we know that going in."
The game, which is the fourth matchup between the two teams, will kickoff on Saturday at 9 p.m. MT and can be viewed on the Pac-12 Network.