With Jordan Love most likely out, it’s Henry Colombi‘s show
Utah State had given its season new life with a close win over a tough Wyoming squad. Now, the balance seems to be in doubt again with the unknown status of Jordan Love.
Late in the game, USU went on a drive deep into Wyoming territory. Jordan Love kept the ball himself and ran inside the Wyoming five-yard line. Love took a vicious hit and USU ended up settling for a field goal on the next play. It seemed about right for the type of the day the Aggies had in the red zone.
After the Aggies went on offense again, sophomore QB Henry Colombi stepped in. He mounted a decent drive, but Eberle missed a field goal try. In the fourth quarter, Colombi would get the Aggies in scoring position again, with Eberle making his last field goal attempt on the day.
The offense didn’t look drastically different and the receivers still seemed to respond well to Colombi. He did just enough to finish the game and get the win and he committed no turnovers. Pedestrian stats against a strong defense are to be expected of a new QB when coming into a game late, after all.
What Colombi can reasonably do for USU
The newly minted starter is going to have a sizable challenge on his hands when the Aggies take the field against the Boise State Broncos on Saturday night. Colombi’s playing time has been substantially limited this year as compared to last, so his inexperience with this team will show at points. Nonetheless, he can manage the game and not turn the ball over against the Broncos.
The good news for Aggie fans is that Colombi isn’t being thrown into this game with cold feet. As mentioned before, due to the number of teams the Aggies were blowing out last year, Colombi got to play a lot of minutes in his backup role. It wasn’t uncommon at all for him to play entire halves of games against lesser competition. These scenarios allowed him to continue learning the offense and become mentally prepared for when his number would be called.
Against the five teams he played in 2018, Colombi racked up 239 passing yards on 33 passes in 40 attempts. On top of that, he rushed for 108 yards and on just 13 attempts. His lone rushing touchdown came on a long scamper against UNLV near the end of that game. An already beaten Rebels squad didn’t have an answer for him.
It’s hard to say how effective of a passer Colombi is since he mostly managed games, but his running ability is definitely a major plus for this offense. USU’s running game has been hit or miss this season, so adding an extra set of wheels to the mix will make the play-calling for Mike Sanford easier. Utah State is going to need every advantage they can get on the ground against a Broncos defense that is giving up only 117 yards per game, good for 23rd best in the nation.
A nice break for the new starter
Henry Colombi is also catching another break: he most likely won’t need to worry about Curtis Weaver living in USU’s backfield. Weaver limped off the field last week against New Mexico up in Boise and was later seen in a boot. Though the Bronco’s easily won that game, the loss of Weaver cannot be understated.
At his peak, Weaver has absolutely terrorized opposing quarterbacks in this league. His sack rate is third best in the country! Teams game-plan specifically to stop him, and that doesn’t work a decent chunk of the time. Whoever replaces him at DE, there will almost certainly be a noticeable drop-off in production.
Boise’s pass rush against USU’s offensive line is going to be key in this game. On the season, USU’s offensive line has acquitted itself nicely, only allowing 15 sacks on the year. We won’t know how good of a passer Colombi can be if he can’t stay upright against the Broncos, so USU’s line must continue playing well. The absence of Weaver may just give USU’s QB a level playing field in what would otherwise be an extremely difficult positional match-up.