5 – Three-and-outs on the first six drives of the game
To say that it took a little while for the offense to get clicking would be a generous statement. Mostly, because it never really did. But the first quarter-and-a-half of this game was nothing short of abysmal for the Aggie offense. While five of the first six drives for Utah State resulted in three-and-outs, they were just one 11-yard first down run by Jordan Love away from that being all six of them. To be fair, there was only one more three-and-out in the game for the Aggie offense, but the average Utah State offensive possession throughout the game (including 10 punts by Aaron Dalton), consisted of just over six plays. Yikes.
212 – Yards against a defense that on average allows 426
If you’re not very familiar with Colorado State’s team and you watched this game or you read the paragraph about three-and-outs, you’re probably thinking “wow, the Rams must be a defensive juggernaut!” Well, not exactly. Entering Saturday’s game, Colorado State was ranked 97th in the country in yards allowed per game, on average allowing 426. The Utah State offense managed just 212 yards against them, almost exactly 50% of their average. To give you a little bit more of an idea of what this number means, Abilene Christian, a 2-4 FCS team from the Southland Conference, put up 333 yards in their game against Colorado State earlier this season.
2.2 – Yards per rush for USU
I feel like I’m really hammering hard on the Utah State offense, when it’s not like the defense was all that great either. But the defense made adjustments and cleaned things up, while the offensive struggles never stopped. The running game (or lack thereof) has been USU’s biggest weakness this season in my college sports writer hoping to one day become a professional opinion. The Aggies rank 82nd in the nation in rushing yards per game with 145, and were only able to get 63 yards on the ground against Colorado State. Given, the CSU run defense isn’t terrible, allowing on average just 134 per game, Utah State still far underachieved in this category. The average Aggie rush on Saturday went for 2.2 yards, with just 14 of their 29 attempts going for more than one yard.
4 – Blocked punts this season by Utah State
I don’t like to write an entire column without at least including one positive, although there weren’t a ton of great numbers for the Aggies. But for the first time that I can ever remember in my life-long Aggie fandom, Utah State special teams are really good! Like, one of the best in the nation good. After DJ Nelson’s blocked punt which resulted in a scoop-and-score for the third-string Aggie QB, USU extended their lead as the top team in the country for punt blocks. Now with four on the season, the Aggies have double the amount of the second place team, Florida State. After that, there are 33 teams with one apiece. Only one team in the past five seasons has had more than four blocked punts in a season.
Along with the blocked punts, Utah State is also tied for the top team in the nation in kick blocks with four. The team has also dramatically improved in kickoff return defense (ranking 5th nationally), punt return defense, and net punting yardage. I guess when you bring in a guy who has had a ton of success coaching special teams for 22 years (and who I’m convinced is a literal wizard), good things just happen.