What We Learned About Utah State In Loss To Nevada
Lyle was seen in a boot during the New Mexico Football Game on Saturday
An ugly loss with few answers
It was another rough outing for the Utah State Aggie offense in Reno. Nevada Wolf Pack star receiver Romeo Doubs had more offense than the entire Aggie offense by halftime, he ended up with seven catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns.
If these types of offensive performances continue, USU will be lucky to win even just one or two games this season.
Here are key takeaways from the Aggies’ 34-9 loss which drops them to 0-3.
1. Jason Shelley may not be the answer at QB
It’s tough writing this because Shelley is in an untenable position. He came into the program late in an already shortened season, which was initially canceled. On top of this, the ensuing drama of Henry Colombi transferring ensured the offense as a whole was going to be disrupted. This is due to learning a new offense with a new QB and developing chemistry with the existing receivers.
Nevertheless, the results so far have been extremely poor. Shelley through three games only has two passing touchdowns. One of them was a hail mary. In his three starts, Shelley has yet to eclipse 100 passing yards with just 96 yards on 15 of 27 competitions.
He has some elusiveness with his feet, but so far it hasn’t translated into meaningful production. He rarely extends plays and he often stares down receivers. Tonight’s game against the Pack was a great example where he took far too long to get the ball out to Jaylen Warren, he stared him down first, and then Warren barely got a one-yard gain since every defender on the field knew where the ball was.
Andrew Peasley may deserve more looks at QB. He’s recovered from his injury and he has more familiarity with the other offensive players since he’s been in the program much longer than Shelley. On top of that, Peasley is also a proven runner and he hasn’t shown the propensity to stare down receivers as often. It’s doubtful the production could get worse even with a QB change nearly halfway through the season at the rate the Aggies are currently going.
2. This defense cannot get off the field
I don’t want to throw the defense under the bus too hard when the offense consistently punts the ball away, but there are deeply troubling signs of an overmatched unit. This is the third week in a row the defense hasn’t been able to stop the run. Nevada’s star RB Toa Taua ran all over the hapless Aggie defense, and he bowled his way over S Troy Lefeged for a backbreaking touchdown score early in the third quarter. It’s bad when you can’t stop the run, but it’s worse when your best players on that side of the ball get humiliated in the process.
With little to no pass rush, the Aggies are forced to make plays on the backend and it’s been a losing proposition this season. Wolf Pack QB Carson Strong had enough time in the pocket to pack a lunch and read the paper. Strong had 411 yards and threw a trio of touchdown passes.
USU rarely got pressure on the signal-caller, and even when they did, Strong found a way to make nothing into something with a spectacular pass. He chucked up several deep balls and Nevada’s superior receiver Doubs easily overpowered the smaller DBs on USU’s team with his size.
The front end of the schedule has been brutal, so one would hope the easier coming competition might cut a break for the defense. There are holes all over the place.
Here's a serotonin boost brought to you by Toa Taua!
Taua with the 60-yard run.
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) November 6, 2020
3. Where’s the competitive heart?
The Wolf Pack got off to a slow start, scoring only seven points in the first quarter. But then they exploded for 31 unanswered points through the end of the third quarter.
Strong torched the Aggie secondary with ease and Toa Taua ran angry all night. This completely wore down the Aggie defense by the end of the third quarter when the Aggies couldn’t stop even simple plays. Nevada has tons of offensive weapons, but it grew evident as the night wore on this Aggie team just didn’t have their heart in it after a decent first half. That’s partly on the coaching staff for not firing up their players.
It would be easy to write off this loss as being beaten by a superior foe. However, it’s the second week in a row the Aggies have crumbled after a promising first half. There appeared to be little coaching adjustments, even when Peasley came in for a spell to relieve the ineffective Shelley. There was no creativity in the offensive play-calling and we repeatedly watched the same screens get blown up by Wolf Pack defenders. If you’re going to run a simple playbook, you need to outmuscle and out will your opponent, and USU simply had no desire to do that once they got in a hole.
Buckle up, Aggie fans. Something needs to change and it didn’t happen in Reno after a rough couple of weeks.