Utah State Football: WR/TE Preview
Who will be new guys to catch the ball?
Aggies need to replace key starters’ production
Last season was extremely productive for Utah State’s passing game. Unfortunately, Jordan Love’s primary WR and TE targets were mostly seniors. Needless to say, Utah State will need role players like juniors Jordan Nathan and Taylor Compton to step up big if they want to maintain a deadly passing attack.
2018 Recap: a spoil of talent
Altogether, Love was able to amass 3,567 passing yards at a 32-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2018. This was largely made possible by the efforts of seniors Aaren Vaughns, Ron’quavion Tarver, Jalen Greene, and TE Dax Raymond, who is now with the Chicago Bears.
Tarver led the way with 66 receptions for 709 yards and eight touchdowns. His height and size allowed him a distinct advantage over most corners and safeties. Greene wasn’t far behind in production with 44 receptions for 689 yards and six touchdowns.
As a bonus, he was an excellent blocker and physical presence on the field that could out-muscle most defenders. As arguably the most explosive of the bunch, Vaughns had 33 receptions for 581 yards and five touchdowns. This averaged out to 17.6 yards per reception, a team high.
Rounding out this senior group of pass-catchers, Dax Raymond tallied 27 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns. Raymond missed a few games due to a broken wrist he sustained in the BYU game. Though his numbers aren’t as eye-popping as the WRs, Raymond had a high yards per catch average at 12.9 and made for serious match-up problems against opposing teams.
So where do the Aggies turn now?
Scarver and Terrell are poised for breakout years
It’s somewhat easy to forget that the Aggies actually have a consensus All-American on the team. Savon Scarver got primarily used as a kickoff return specialist, averaging a ridiculously high 33.7 yards per try. Along with that, he also dazzled the crowds and scored two kickoff return touchdowns on the year, one apiece against New Mexico State and Wyoming.
As a play-making and receiving threat, Scarver had his great moments (and not so great moments) in 2018. Though arguably the fastest player on the team, Scarver missed a few easy receptions from Jordan Love that could have easily gone for large gains or scores.
He racked up 156 yards on just nine receptions for a pair of scores, averaging a terrific 17.3 yards per catch. As brightly as he shined, Scarver is going to be targeted and counted on much more this season to pick up the slack left behind by the departing seniors. If he can find a way to become a more consistent pass-catching threat, his speed matched with Love’s arm could be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Carson Terrell had sneaky good production for the Aggies last season. His receptions, though fewer in number than Raymond’s, made for exceptional gains at the TE spot. He gained 150 yards and a touchdown on just 10 catches. A big target with now significant playtime, he’s extremely hard to bring down and will help the Aggies maintain their physical edge. Matching or even exceeding what Raymond accomplished last season will be very attainable for Terrell.
Nathan and Compton can provide stability
Some of the lesser hailed receivers from last year are Jordan Nathan and Taylor Compton. Neither of these players put up the numbers the departed seniors did, but they are both experienced and talented enough to ensure the WR unit doesn’t drop off too substantially.
Nathan mostly saw action as the primary punt returner on the team. Reliable and quick, Nathan tallied 28 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns, averaging a strong 10.6 yards per catch. He was also able to make some very difficult catches, a trend that must continue for the Aggies to remain strong through the air.
Compton, though his receiving numbers aren’t high, did catch on (no pun intended) more as the 2018 season plugged along. He nabbed eight catches for 58 yards against the back end of the schedule. With voids left over by the seniors, Compton is going to get significantly more playtime than last year. His familiarity with the offense puts him ahead of the remaining receivers on the team.