Utah State’s potential coming into focus after slamming NMSU
Aggie Bowl pt. II really not much of a contest
What a refreshing sight.
You can argue whether Utah State actually played a sharper game against ranked Michigan State last week, but there’s no sense in casting anything but a positive light on the Aggies’ throttling of New Mexico State Saturday night. The expectation was for this game to be out of reach by halftime, and despite a brief 7-6 NMSU lead early there was little doubt this would go down as a Utah State win.
A dominant effort from both the defense and special teams gave the USU offense time to roll out of bed and still arrive to Maverik Stadium in time to punt the Red Aggies into the sun. Dominik Eberle, who might actually be the best kicker in the country, nailed two early field goals to begin his historic night. New Mexico State responded with a methodical touchdown drive with QB Matt Romero looking mobile in the pocket and accurate downfield as receivers took advantage of chunks of open yardage along both sidelines.
Romero’s lone TD pass of the night was a well-placed ball, earning NMSU a lead for exactly as many seconds as it took Savon Scarver to run back the ensuing kickoff for a 100-yard return touchdown. Utah State never looked back — Eberle booted another pair of field goals, Eltoro Allen and Jalen Greene each scored touchdowns, and the score sat at 33-10 by halftime.
That’s about when USU began flexing for the home crowd, scoring five times in the second half from 51+ yards out.
No, that’s seriously what it says right here in the box score. Eberle was money two more times from 51 yards out, Deante Fortenberry housed a 75-yard pick-six, Gerold Bright took a handoff 51 yards for a score and Darwin Thompson did the same five minutes later for a 68-yard run straight up the middle.
It ended in a predictable 60-13 beatdown over an inferior opponent. It wasn’t without its flaws. It was still pretty awesome.
Even just two weeks into the season, the outlook for this Aggie squad is starting to clear up. Here are five things we know:
Dominik Eberle is next-level
Ever wonder what a kicker revenge game looked like? Me neither, but here we are talking NCAA all-time records after Eberle’s monster Saturday.
Eberle tallied six total field goals of 44, 32, 51, 21, 51 and 51 yards, adding a perfect 6/6 mark on point after tries and 12 kickoffs for 754 yards (62.8 yards per kick) and nine touchbacks. His 24 points scored ties an NCAA record for points in a game by a kicker.
Outside of one bad game that happened to be high-profile enough to draw attention, Eberle has been as sharp a kicker as USU could ever ask for.
The Aggie secondary is deep
Senior safety Aaron Wade stepped into a starting role and recorded his first career pass breakup. Then he snagged two interceptions, recorded ten tackles and delivered the best post-game presser since Jalen Davis —
“I thought the defense played great today — well, amazing in my perspective. That’s it.”
Indeed it did, Mr. Wade.
Utah State has now forced seven turnovers (four interceptions, three fumbles) through two weeks of football to rank second in the nation behind only Fresno State (8). The Aggies also lead the Mountain West with four sacks per game, which ranks eighth in the nation.
Also, Tipa Galeai hates quarterbacks
Galeai’s 1.75 sacks per game ranks second in the country. That’s all.
Jordan Love has room to grow
Love completed 14-of-27 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. The sophomore also tossed an interception and took two sacks. None of these statistics are particularly concerning since the Aggie ground game/special teams/defense all mashed NMSU to bits anyway. However, Love appeared less methodical than his outing at Michigan State — and conference play as fast approaching.
The offense’s 3rd down conversion rate dipped to 6-16 against a NMSU defense missing guys to injuries and one ejection. While Love didn’t miss hardly any wide open targets, he also floated some key passes long and missed a few early opportunities to punch in touchdowns. Now is the time to be having these problems, and even Thursday against Tennessee Tech probably won’t be impacted by a relatively quiet night from the QB.
Next week is a different story, and as the season ramps up to MW play, Love will need to be a premier player in the Aggie offense if USU wants to contend for a conference title.
I haven’t quite nailed a final score yet
Weekly accountability is important, and last week’s preview marked some decent predictions mixed with a final score that wasn’t quite right.
“Jordan Love will throw for two touchdowns (one each to Raymond and Tarver) and run in a third. Darwin Thompson will rush for 110 yards and a TD. Dominik Eberle will do his thing. Tipa will record another sack. Aggies all the way.
USU 100, NMSU 0”
Jordan Love threw just one TD pass (to Jalen Greene). Darwin Thompson rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown. Dominik Eberle did in fact do his thing (a lot), Tipa did get his sack and Utah State did dominate.
On to Tennessee Tech.
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