8.1 – Average yards per play for the Aggies
This is far and away the most impressive statistic from the game to me. I, along with some of my fellow Statesman writers *cough cough* Logan Jones *cough cough* have been rather harsh on the Utah State offense at times during this season, and to be honest, fairly so. But sparked by an unprecedented outburst of production from LaJuan Hunt, the change to Jordan Love at quarterback, and the best offensive play we’ve seen at USU in a LONG time, the Aggies actually might have a good offense!
Now look, I’m not going to pretend that Hawaii is some defensive juggernaut. They’re quite far from it, ranking 116 out of 129 in average yards per game allowed. But there has been a night to day transformation of David Yost’s offense throughout the season, and they’ve actually become somewhat fun to watch. 8.1 yards per play is fantastic, even against Hawaii (on average they allow 6.8 ypp). The Aggies ran the ball 39 times, averaging 8.0 yards per attempt, something I never thought I’d be able to say about this team. And when they threw it? 8.2 yards per attempt and a whopping 13.7 yards per completion. The best part about all of this? Next year’s offense remains almost entirely intact, only losing LaJuan Hunt and Braelon Roberts from the starting lineup.
0 – Points scored by Hawaii
Without cheating, try to guess when the last time Utah State shut a team out was. If you guessed 2013 (Matt Wells first year as a head coach), you are correct! Utah State shut Colorado State out with a 13-0 win. Now try to guess when the time before that one was. I bet you didn’t guess as far back as 2003. Saturday’s shutout was just the fourth time in 35 years that a Utah State team didn’t allow their opponent to score a single point, and they did it against a pretty solid offense as well. Hawaii’s offense ranks 51 in the nation in average yards per game with 413.3. Not only did the Aggie defense hold them well below that, allowing 318 yards, they came through big when it mattered. Hawaii had three different red zone opportunities, the most promising of which resulted in a forced fumble on the goal line by Gage Ferguson. In fact, the past seven red zone attempts from Utah State opponents have resulted in exactly zero points. That is a simply ridiculous stat, let it sink in for a minute.
21:35 – Time of possession for the Aggies
The Utah State offense outgained Hawaii’s by 157 yards, had the exact same amount of first downs, and scored 31 more points, all while only possessing the ball for roughly one-third of the game. As much praise as I’ve already given the USU offense, I’m not sure it’s quite enough. Here’s another mind-boggling statistic for you: the Aggies had six different scoring drives in this game. The average time taken off the clock on those drives was one minute, 29 seconds. Before the season started, there was a lot of talk about David Yost’s high-powered, fast-paced offense, and Saturday was the perfect example of it working to perfection. This number also makes the defensive effort more impressive, considering the fact that Hawaii possessed the ball for 38:25 and STILL couldn’t manage to get a single point on the board.
6 – Straight wins following a bye from Matt Wells coached teams
I don’t know what Matt Wells and his staff are doing during bye weeks, but it’s something incredible. In Wells’ tenure as the head coach of Utah State, the Aggies are a perfect 6-0 following a bye week. That number is impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you consider what some of those wins were. Let’s take a look at them:
- Wells’ first season as head coach in 2013, the Aggies are 4-4 heading into the bye. They have Hawaii at home the first week of November and blow them out of the water, 47-10. The team wins four straight to make it into the conference championship game and have a 9-5 season.
- 2014, USU starts out 2-2 after losing big to Tennessee and having a deflating overtime loss to Arkansas State. They head to Provo to play “Heisman hopeful Taysom Hill” and the “future national champion” 4-0 BYU Cougars (who were also coming off a bye week). I think we all remember this one. Aggies dominate, win 35-20.
- The Aggies were off to a dreadful 2-4 start to the 2016 season, and were coming off three straight conference losses. Then, bye week magic happens, and with really nothing to play for the Aggies put on their best performance of the year in a 38-20 whooping of Fresno State. Unfortunately, that was the last time they would win that season.
I guess what I’m getting at is that Matt Wells is a good coach. He’s had some tough circumstances, gone through a ton of assistant coaches, and coached through much of this season with a large portion of the fan base calling for his head. Yet, the Aggies are going to their sixth bowl game in seven seasons and are certainly trending in the right direction. I’m glad that he still has another year on his contract.