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Plenty of preseason intrigue for this Aggie offense
If football is played this year, Utah State has plenty of interesting story-lines on their offense. Late season transfers, both incoming and outgoing, have fundamentally shifted the focus and identity of this offense. On top of that, the Aggies return plenty of experience in their receiver corps. Combined with having a new offensive coordinator, this side of the ball has the opportunity to flourish if the pieces can effectively come together.
To the surprise of just about everybody, the Aggies landed grad transfer Jason Shelley out of Utah. The signal-caller has two years of eligibility left and can start playing immediately.
He carved a name out for himself as the Utes’ starter in 2018 after starter Tyler Huntley went down for the season due to injury. Shelley played well, all things considered, scoring key victories against the Oregon, Colorado, and BYU as the starter. His efforts helped send the Utes to the PAC-12 championship game against Washington that year. T
hough the offensive wheels came off against the Huskies, Shelley finished the 2018 season throwing 1,162 yards for 5 TD and 6 INT while rushing 63 times for 192 yards and three scores.
Those are decent stats that can only stand to improve with more time to be groomed as the proper starter. He’s shown the ability to be elusive with his feet, so any extra dimension this offense can get is positive for Utah State. Considering how many times the Aggie offense stalled last year in third-and-short situation, an extra body the defense has to respect boosts this unit’s chances of success.
Depth is more precarious behind Shelley, however. With the departure of Henry Colombi to Texas Tech, an unmistakably big loss, the Aggies will need to rely on largely unproven backups in case Shelley needs relief. Returning from injury will be SO Andrew Peasley.
He showed tremendous promise with his legs early last season, but it’s unknown how well he can throw the ball. Playing in garbage time against Stony Brook doesn’t say much about how he can contribute this season. His injury against the Sea Wolves almost certainly hampered his progression, and redshirt freshmen Cooper Legas and Josh Calvin haven’t played at all.
Utah State’s backfield is looking much better now than it was even just a couple of months ago. The Aggies received extremely welcome news with the addition of another graduate transfer in Devonta’e Henry-Cole. He looks to end his final year of eligibility on a high note and this offense may give him just what he needs. He originally signed with BYU, but had a change of heart late and received a release from his NLI.
At Utah, Henry-Cole put respectable numbers in a limited role. He rushed for 451 yards on 86 attempts in his last two seasons, including four touchdown runs. In a deep unit for the Utes, he managed to average over 5 yards per carry.
For the Aggies, Henry-Cole gives badly needed production for a unit that lacks depth behind SR Jaylen Warren. With an experienced teammate to help him out, Warren can reasonably split carries now and hopefully avoid any injuries that plagued him last year.
When healthy, Warren was a load to tackle in 2019 for opposing defenses. He rushed 112 times for 569 yards and five touchdowns, good for 5.1 yards per carry. Plus, he is on the preseason Doak Walker watch list for the best running back in the nation.
If Warren can avoid injury this go-around, the duo can easily carry the load on the ground while younger backs like FR John Gentry and FR Elelyon Noa find their footing. There will be plenty of touches for the older backs and it will help younger backs adjust to the system. Both Gentry and Noa are talented and have impressive offer lists, but they still need to crank out production when they can.