2022 Utah St. Aggies Preview

by Matt Fargo

Utah St. Aggies

2021-22 Season Record 11-3 (6-2 MWC Mountain) - 10-4-0 ATS - 6-8-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 5

Overview

It took nine years, but Utah St. finally won its first ever MWC Championship last season which was part of a spectacular 11-3 season, matching the most wins in program history, tying the 2012 and 2018 teams. The Aggies were a below average program for years but under head coach Gary Anderson, they went 18-8 in their final two years in the WAC in 2011-2012 and he made way for the move to the MWC where Matt Wells took over and sustained the success with a winning conference record in five of his six seasons before leaving for Texas Tech. A 1-5 COVID shortened season was the end of Anderson in his second go around and Blake Anderson was hired from Arkansas St. and will be in his second year. Last season was a weird one in that all three losses came at home by at least two touchdowns but winning the final three games overall is something to build on.

Offense

You have to take a six-game season with a grain of salt as it was nothing like a normal year but improving by 173 yards on offense last season from 2020 was a big deal. The Aggies finished No. 18 in total offense and No. 31 in scoring offense and hope to keep that going with some good parts in place to keep the pace up. The offense was spearheaded by Logan Bonner who came over with Anderson from Arkansas St. and he did not miss a beat in the familiar system as he threw for 3,628 yards with 36 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and replicating those numbers may be tough. His top three receivers have departed but in this system, a new three can step up out of nowhere just like they did. The running game gets back leading rusher Calvin Tyler, Jr. who ran for 884 yards and seven touchdowns and he will be behind a very experienced offensive line with four starters back.

Defense

The turnaround of the defense was not as massive but it still improved a good deal as the Aggies were No. 78 in total defense, an improvement from a No. 121 ranking the previous season, and No. 58 in scoring defense. They do have to replace a lot more on this side of the ball and they will be counting on a lot of transfers to learn quickly. The strength will be in the secondary but that is by default as that is where the leading returning tackler Hunter Reynolds resides after making 84 stops last season at safety to go along with the other returning starter, corner Michael Anyanwu. The defensive line will be okay as well with end Byron Vaughns and tackle Hale Motu'apuaka combining for 70 tackles and 7.5 sacks. At linebacker, A.J. Vongphachanh played in all 14 games and recorded 45 tackles and two sacks and will be helped by Washington transfer M.J. Tafisi.

2022 Season Outlook

Anderson won 62 games in seven years at Arkansas St. so calling his first season at Utah St. a fluke would be unfair. He did come into a good situation with 19 returning starters but they had to learn new systems so it was a hell of a job of what the Aggies accomplished, especially after playing only six games the previous season. There is talent at all levels so there are no significant holes yet it will take some time and that is fine with an easy opening part of the schedule. Yes, they are at Alabama in Game Two but that is a loss no matter who is on the field and the other three games are at home against Connecticut, Weber St. and UNLV. The rest of the slate is fine with the exception being road games at BYU in September and Boise St. to close the season. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 and it is that high based on last season but it looks very attainable with nine games they will be favored in. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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