LOGAN — With Utah State scheduled to host Weber State of the FCS this weekend, it could be easy for the Aggies to look ahead to their next opponent: tradition-laden USC.
After all, the Sept. 21 date with the Trojans is USU’s big out-of-state nonconference game this year, and considering USC's narrow loss to lowly Washington State last week, it could be a chance for the Aggies to snap their string of narrow road losses to BCS opponents.
The USC-Washington State game was on television right when USU got home last weekend, but Utah State head coach Matt Wells was more concerned about the highlights from the day showing teams that were upset by FCS schools.
“All you’ve got to do is flip on 'SportsCenter' any day for two straight weeks,” Wells said, referring to the number of big upsets that have occurred early in the season.
Among the victims of FCS schools so far this season are Oregon State, Connecticut and Kansas State. Even with the Wildcats falling 70-7 at Utah last Saturday, Wells won’t let his squad look ahead on the schedule.
“We all know of what’s gone on in the landscape of football these last two weeks, as you go back and look at it,” Wells said. “That’s got our guys' attention. (Weber State) will come in and play very, very hard, so it’ll be up to us to match that intensity that we know they’re going to bring to Romney Stadium.”
TWO-WAY PLAYER: Right before his team's season opener at Utah, USU linebacker Kyler Fackrell changed his number to 9. The reason was more functional than fashion-oriented. With a single-digit number Fackrell can sub in on offense without having to check in with officials. This has led to Fackrell lining up at tight end in goal-line packages for the Aggies in both games this season.
"They needed someone to throw fade routes to," Fackrell said.
The move was both of necessity and another chance to take advantage of Fackrell’s athleticism. Utah State has a shortage of experienced tight ends on the roster and Fackrell played some wide receiver in high school.
So far the big linebacker has been more of a decoy than a target, but he did open a big hole as a blocker to spring Joey DeMartino for a rushing touchdown against Air Force.
GAME TIME: The Aggies' game at USC finally has a scheduled time. Utah State and USC will kick off at 1:30 MDT on Sept. 21. The game will be televised on either ABC or an ESPN network. Landing on a network that is broadcast in more than 90 million homes will earn Utah State an extra $500,000, according to the new television payout structure the Mountain West Conference installed during the offseason.
FIRST TIME: Saturday was the first win for Utah State in the Mountain West Conference as well as Well’s first win as head coach. Wells received plenty of well-wishes from friends and coaching colleagues, but had already moved on by Sunday afternoon.
“Yeah, a lot of guys reached out and it was pretty cool. Guys I coached for, coached with, high school coaches, those kind of guys reached out. That’s when you figure out it’s cool to get your first win,” Wells said. “We’ve moved on already. I’ve got the 24-hour rule and we’ve passed it.”
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company