Game will be televised live on ESPN on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 1:15 p.m. (MT).
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UTAH STATE FACES MEMPHIS IN SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDER BOWL
Game will be televised live on ESPN on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 1:15 p.m. (MT).
MEMPHIS (6-6, 3-5 AAC) vs. UTAH STATE (6-6, 5-3 MW)
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022 • 1:15 p.m. (MT) • Dallas, Texas • Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000)
GAME 13 INFORMATION
• Play-by-Play: Mike Monaco
• Analyst: Charles Arbuckle
• Sideline Reporter: Nicole Rigoni
• Xfinity (Utah): Ch. 35 / 668HD
• DISH / DirecTV: Ch. 140 / 206
RADIO: Aggie Sports Network
• Play-by-Play: Scott Garrard
• Analyst: Kevin White
• Online: kslsports.com/kslsportszone
• National: Sirius XM 382 / SXM App 972
NATIONAL RADIO: ESPN
• Play-by-Play: Brian Estridge
• Analyst: Justin Fuente
• Reporter: Chris Mykoskie
• Online: Sirius XM 84 / SXM App 84
SOCIAL MEDIA: #AGGIESALLTHEWAY
• Twitter/Instagram: @USUFootball
• Facebook: USUFootball
• YouTube: UtahStateFootball
• Utah State (6-6, 5-3 MW) is playing in a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons and for the 16th time in school history, as it faces Memphis (6-6, 3-5 AAC) in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 1:15 p.m. (MT). USU is 6-9 in its previous 15 bowl games, which includes an 0-1 record against current members of the American Athletic Conference.
• Utah State posted a 24-13 win against Oregon State in the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl and will be looking to win back-to-back bowl games for just the second time in school history, joining the 2012-14 teams that won a school-record three-straight bowls. USU also played in five-straight bowl games from 2011-15, which is a school record, as well.
• Utah State’s Blake Anderson is just the second head coach in school history, along with Matt Wells (2013-14), to lead the Aggies to bowl games in each of his first two seasons. Overall, Anderson is the fifth head coach in school history to coach in multiple bowls, along with E. Lowell Romney (1946-47), John Ralston (1960-61), Gary Andersen (2011-12, 2019) and Wells (2013-15, ’17). Anderson could also join Wells as the only head coaches in school history to win consecutive bowl games in their first two seasons.
• Utah State graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. has rushed for 2,051 yards in his collegiate career, which includes 1,927 yards in his two seasons as an Aggie, and is just 73 yards shy of becoming the 11th player in school history to rush for 2,000 yards in a USU career. Tyler, who has rushed for 1,043 yards this season, is one of 15 players in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season 19 total times.
• Utah State graduate senior OL Alfred Edwards will be starting his 53rd career game this week, which will set the school record, breaking the previous mark of 52 career starts by Tyler Larsen (2009-13). Edwards will also be starting in his school-record fourth bowl game, breaking the previous record of three bowl game starts by Kyler Fackrell (2012-13, ’15), Nick Vigil (2013-15), Zach Vigil (2012-14), Nevin Lawson (2011-13) and Larsen (2011-13). Edwards will also join Jordan Nielsen (2012-15) and Frankie Sutera (2011-14) as the only Aggies to ever play in four bowl games.
REYNOLDS NAMED PROFOOTBALLFOCUS HONORABLE MENTION ALL-AMERICAN
• Utah State graduate senior safety Hunter Reynolds was named a ProFootballFocus (PFF) Honorable Mention All-American, becoming the first Aggie defensive back to be named an All-American since Jalen Davis in 2017, and only the sixth defensive back to earn All-America honors in school history, along with Nevin Lawson (2013), Will Davis (2012), Travis Clark (1988) and Henry King (1966).
LARSEN NAMED COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN
• Utah State redshirt freshman safety Ike Larsen was named a College Football News (CFN) Honorable Mention Freshman All-American, becoming just the fourth player in school history to earn Freshman All-America honors, along with defensive back Jalen Davis (2014), linebacker Kyler Fackrell (2012) and kickoff returner Kevin Robinson (2004).
REYNOLDS AND LARSEN ARE FIRST ALL-AMERICAN TANDEM IN SCHOOL HISTORY
• The 2022 season marks the first time in school history that Utah State has had a pair of defensive backs earn All-America honors in the same season in graduate senior safety Hunter Reynolds and redshirt freshman safety Ike Larsen.
UTAH STATE HAS NINE PLAYERS NAMED ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST
• Utah State had nine football players earn various all-Mountain West accolades, including graduate senior OL Alfred Edwards, who earned first-team honors. USU also had three players earn second-team all-MW accolades in graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs, graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. and redshirt freshman S Ike Larsen, while five Aggies garnered honorable mention honors in graduate senior OL Chandler Dolphin, graduate senior S Hunter Reynolds, graduate junior DE Daniel Grzesiak, junior ILB MJ Tafisi and junior WR Terrell Vaughn.
• Edwards is the only Aggie to earn all-conference honors multiple times as he was named an honorable mention selection following the 2021 season.
UTAH STATE SIXTH IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST IN ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS
• Utah State had five offensive and four defensive players recognized for a total of nine all-conference awards, to rank as the sixth-most in the league. San Diego State had a league-best 16 all-conference players and Fresno State was second with 13. Boise State was third (12), followed by Air Force (10), San José State (10), Utah State (9), Colorado State (8), Hawai’i (8), New Mexico (8), UNLV (8), Nevada (7) and Wyoming (7).
UTAH STATE NOTABLES ON ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
• Graduate senior OL Alfred Edwards is just the fourth Aggie offensive lineman to earn first-team all-Mountain West honors since Utah State joined the league in 2013, joining Tyler Larsen (2013), Kevin Whimpey (2014) and Quin Ficklin (2018).
• Graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs is just the fourth Aggie wide receiver to earn first- or second-team all-MW honors as Deven Thompkins was named to the first team last year, while Hunter Sharp and Siaosi Mariner were both named to the second team in 2015 and 2019, respectively.
• Graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. is just the second Aggie running back to earn first- or second-team all-MW honors, as Darwin Thompson was also named to the second team in 2018.
• Redshirt freshman S Ike Larsen is one of just three freshmen and one of just seven underclassmen in the MW to earn first- or second-team all-conference honors this year. Larsen is the first USU freshman since Kyler Fackrell in 2012, and just the 12th freshman in school history, to earn first- or second-team all-conference accolades. Larsen is also just the fifth Aggie defensive back to earn first- or second-team all-MW honors and first since Jontrell Rocquemore was also named to the second team in 2018.
SIX AGGIES EARN MOUNTAIN WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS IN 2022
• Utah State had six players recognized by the Mountain West this year, led by redshirt freshman S Ike Larsen, who was named the MW Defensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week following his performance at Hawai’i. Graduate senior PK Connor Coles and junior P Stephen Kotsanlee were both named the MW Special Teams Player of the Week, while true freshman ILB Max Alford, true freshman RB Robert Briggs and true freshman QB Bishop Davenport were all named the MW Freshman of the Week.
FOUR AGGIES INVITED TO COLLEGE GRIDIRON SHOWCASE
• Utah State has four players that have been invited to the 2023 College Gridiron Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas, from Jan. 7-11, 2023, in graduate senior QB Logan Bonner, graduate senior PK Connor Coles, graduate senior safety Hunter Reynolds and graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr.
• Bonner was also invited to the Tropical Bowl, which will be held from Jan. 16-23, 2023, in Orlanda, Florida.
• Memphis is 6-6 on the season and tied for eighth in the American Athletic Conference with a 3-5 record. The Tigers enter the bowl game after losing their season finale at SMU, 34-31. The Tigers are led by sophomore QB Seth Henigan, who is 265-of-416 (.637) passing for 3,275 yards (272.9 ypg) with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Redshirt sophomore RB Jevyon Ducker leads the team in rushing with 461 yards on 97 carries (4.8 ypc/38.4 ypg) with five touchdowns, and redshirt junior TE Caden Prieskorn has 46 receptions for 593 yards (12.9 ypr/49.4 ypg) with six touchdowns. Defensively, senior LB Xavier Cullens has a team-best 104 tackles, which includes 7.5 tackles for loss, to go along with four fumble recoveries. As a team, UM is averaging 35.1 points and 420.7 yards of offense per game (278.8 passing, 141.9 rushing), and allowing 27.3 points and 371.9 yards of offense (250.2 passing, 121.8 rushing). Ryan Silverfield is 20-16 in his third season as a collegiate head coach.
AGGIES AND TIGERS SERIES HISTORY
• Utah State trails 4-3 in the all-time series against Memphis. The first meeting in the series was in 1965 with UM winning at home 7-0. USU then won three of the next four games, followed by consecutive wins by the Tigers in the last two matchups. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since Memphis posted a 31-26 home win in 1977. This will be the second neutral-site game in the series as USU posted a 28-14 win in Salt Lake City in 1967.
UTAH STATE vs. THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
• Utah State is 4-7 all-time against current members of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) with a 3-4 record against Memphis, a 1-0 record against UCF, and 0-1 records against Cincinnati, Houston and South Florida.
• The last time Utah State played a current member of the AAC was during the 2001 season when it lost at South Florida 34-13, and defeated UCF at home, 30-27.
• This will be Utah State’s second meeting against a current AAC team in a bowl game as it lost to Cincinnati 35-19 in the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl, in Boise, Idaho. The Bearcats were a member of Conference USA at the time, while USU played in the Big West Conference.
ANDERSON vs. THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
• Utah State head coach Blake Anderson is 0-1 all-time against Memphis and 2-3 all-time against current members of the American Athletic Conference, which includes a 31-13 win against UCF in the 2016 Cure Bowl. In 2020, Anderson’s Arkansas State team opend the season with a 37-24 loss at Memphis.
THE MOUNTAIN WEST vs. THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
• The Mountain West is 15-11 all-time against current members of the American Athletic Conference, including a 6-0 record in bowl games. In the 2020 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Nevada defeated Tulane, 38-27. In the 2020 New Mexico Bowl, Hawai’i defeated Houston, 28-14. In the 2017 Hawaii Bowl, Fresno State defeated Houston, 33-27. In the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl, San Diego State defeated Houston, 34-10. In the 2015 Hawaii Bowl, San Diego State defeated Cincinnati, 42-7. And in the 2009 Armed Forces Bowl, Air Force defeated Houston, 47-27.
AGGIE PLAYERS FROM TEXAS
• Utah State has 12 players on its roster from the state of Texas in graduate senior QB Logan Bonner (Rowlett/Rowlett HS), graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. (Beaumont/Silsbee HS), senior CB Ajani Carter (Houston/North Shore HS), junior CB Jaden Smith (Richmond/Foster HS), junior DT Poukesi Vakauta (Euless/Trinity HS), junior DE Byron Vaughns (Fort Worth/Eastern Hills HS), sophomore DT Tavian Coleman (Humble/Humble HS), sophomore RB Bailee Davenport (Spring/Spring HS), sophomore QB Levi Williams (Canyon Lake/Smithson Valley HS), freshman RB Robert Briggs (Bellville/Bellville HS), freshman QB Bishop Davenport (Spring/Spring HS) and freshman ILB Josh Williams (Mesquite/Mesquite HS).
AGGIE COACHES FROM TEXAS
• Utah State has four coaches on its staff that are from Texas in head coach Blake Anderson (Hubbard/Hubbard HS), defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ephraim Banda (San Antonio/Taft HS), running backs coach Chuckie Keeton (Houston/Cypress Creek HS) and senior defensive analyst Ethan Morriss (Sonora/Sonora HS).
• Anderson was a quarterback and wide receiver at Baylor (1988-89) and Sam Houston State (1990-91), and coached at both Howard Payne College (1994) in Brownwood, and at Trinity Valley CC (1995-98) in Athens.
• Banda played safety at Incarnate Word (2008-10), and coached at both Incarnate Word (2011) and Texas (2012-14) as a student assistant and graduate assistant, respectively.
• Morris was a defensive back at West Texas A&M (2011-15).
• Utah State director of football operations Scotty Conley is from Winnsboro. He played at Texas A&M (1966) and graduated from East Texas State (1970). Conley served as the head football coach at Trinity Valley CC in Athens (1996-99) and Texas A&M University-Commerce (2004-08). At Trinity Valley CC, he won a NJCAA National Football Championship and was named NJCAA National Coach of the Year in 1997.
• Utah State has one player on its roster from Tennessee in freshman LS Caden Kellow (Brentwood/Ravenwood HS).
• Utah State junior OL Nikita Iuferov and Memphis redshirt sophomore TE Anthony Landphere both attended College of San Mateo in California.
• Utah State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Anthony Tucker spent two years (2016-17) on staff at Maryland with Memphis defensive coordinator Matt Barnes. USU special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach Nick Paremski spent one year (2009) on staff at West Texas A&M with Memphis running backs coach Sean Dawkins.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State is 4-5 all-time against teams from the state of Tennessee with a 3-4 record against Memphis, a 1-0 record against Tennessee Tech and an 0-1 record vs. Tennessee. USU last played a team from the Volunteer State in 2018 when it posted a 73-12 home win against the Golden Eagles.
• Utah State has 33 players on its roster from the state of Utah and Memphis has 39 players on its roster from the state of Tennessee.
SERIES NOTABLES BETWEEN UTAH STATE AND MEMPHIS
• Memphis has outscored Utah State 148-105, for an average score of 21.4 to 15.0.
• The team that scores first is 4-2 in the series, as USU has a 2-2 record and UM has a 2-0 record. Furthermore, the team that leads at the half is 6-0 in the series as USU is 2-0 and UM is 4-0.
• The team with more rushing yards and more yards of total offense has won four of the six games in the series where stats are available.
• The team with more penalties has won five of the six games in the series where stats are available.
• Utah State has committed more turnovers in all but one game in the series.
• Utah State has had two 100-yard rushers, one 100-yard receiver and two 200-yard passers in series history, and Memphis has had three 100-yard rushers, one 100-yard receiver and no 200-yard passers.
AGGIES WITH BOWL GAME EXPERIENCE
• Utah State has 37 players on its roster that have played in at least one bowl game in graduate senior QB Logan Bonner, graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs, graduate senior PK Connor Coles, graduate senior OL Alfred Edwards, graduate senior OL Chandler Dolphin, graduate senior OL Wade Meacham, graduate senior DT Phillip Paea, graduate senior S Hunter Reynolds, graduate senior OL Jacob South, graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr., senior CB Michael Anyanwu, senior OL Wyatt Bowles, senior CB Ajani Carter, senior RB Cooper Jones, senior DT Hale Motu’apuaka, senior WR Justin McGriff, senior ILB AJ Vongphachanh, graduate junior DE Daniel Grzesiak, junior DE Patrick Joyner Jr., junior P Stephen Kotsanlee, junior OL Calvin Knapp, junior QB Cooper Legas, junior ILB Kaleo Neves, junior OL Jackson Owens, junior CB Jaden Smith, junior TE Josh Sterzer, junior OLB Anthony Switzer, junior DT Poukesi Vakauta, junior WR Kyle Van Leeuwen, junior DE Byron Vaughns, junior RB Jordan Wilmore, sophomore LS Jacob Garcia, sophomore OL Cole Motes, sophomore CB Jamie Nance, sophomore PK Elliott Nimrod, sophomore WR Kyrese Rowan and sophomore QB Levi Williams.
• Of the 37 players that have played in bowl games for Utah State, nine have appeared in multiple bowl games (Carter, Edwards, Grzesiak, Joyner, Motu’apuaka, Neves, Reynolds, Rowan, Williams) and one has played in three bowls (Edwards).
• Utah State also has 13 players that have started in bowl games (Anyanwu, Bonner, Dolphin, Edwards, McGriff, Motes, Motu’apuaka, Reynolds, Tyler, Vaughns, Vongphachanh), while Edwards is the only player that has started in two bowl games. In fact, Edwards has started in all three bowl games he has played in during his career.
AGGIES IN OVERTIME
• Utah State is 6-6 all-time in overtime, winning three of its last five. USU is 4-3 in one overtime, 2-2 in double overtime, and 0-1 in triple overtime. USU’s last overtime game was a 26-20 loss against New Mexico State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29, 2017.
UTAH STATE FACES MEMPHIS IN SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDER BOWL
• Utah State (6-6, 5-3 MW) will play Memphis (6-6, 3-5 AAC) in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 1:15 p.m. (MT). The game will be nationally televised on ESPN (Xfinity Ch. 35/668HD, DISH Ch. 140, DirecTV Ch. 206) with Mike Monaco (play-by-play), Charles Arbuckle (analyst) and Nicole Rigoni (reporter) on the call. The game can also be heard nationally on ESPN radio with Brian Estridge (play-by-play), Justin Fuente (analyst) and Chris Mykoskie (reporter).
UTAH STATE NOTABLES HEADING INTO THE BOWL GAME
• Utah State is playing a 13th game for the 10th time in the past 12 seasons after not playing in more than 12 games prior to its current run. The school record for games played in a season is 14 set in 2013, and tied in 2014 and 2021.
• Utah State is 18-19 (.486) all-time in games played during the month of December and 0-0 all-time in known games played on Dec. 27.
• Utah State will be playing on a Tuesday for the first time since the 2015 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, when it lost to Akron, 23-21.
• Utah State is playing a game in the state of Texas for the first time since 2019 when it lost to Kent State in the Frisco Bowl, 51-41.
A LOOK AT UTAH STATE
• Utah State is 6-6 on the season and finished tied for second place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 5-3 league record following its 42-23 loss at Boise State in its regular season finale. Offensively, USU is led by junior QB Cooper Legas, who is 128-of-209 (.612) passing for 1,465 yards (162.8 ypg) with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. leads the team in rushing with 1,043 yards on 237 carries (4.4 ypc/86.9 ypg) with seven touchdowns, and graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs has a team-best 70 receptions for 844 yards (12.1 ypr/70.3 ypg) and four touchdowns. Defensively, senior LB AJ Vongphachanh leads the team with 92 tackles, which includes 8.0 tackles for loss, while graduate senior S Hunter Reynolds has 88 tackles, which includes 2.5 tackles for loss. As a team, USU is averaging 23.3 points and 362.3 yards of total offense (200.2 passing, 162.1 rushing), and allowing 30.6 points and 396.6 yards (198.4 passing, 198.2 rushing).
UTAH STATE WINS SIX GAMES FOR 39TH TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY
• Utah State has won at least six games 39 times in school history and 10 times in the past 12 seasons. With a victory in its bowl game, USU will finish the season with seven or more wins for the eighth time in the past 12 years, joining the 2011 (7 wins), 2012 (11 wins), 2013 (9 wins), 2014 (10 wins), 2018 (11 wins), 2019 (7 wins) and 2021 (11 wins) teams, and for the 28th time in school history.
• Utah State also finished Mountain West play with a 5-3 record, marking the ninth time in the last 12 years that it has won at least five league games. Overall, USU has now won five or more conference games 19 times in school history.
UTAH STATE MILESTONES THAT EQUAL SUCCESS
• Utah State has won 43 of its last 53 games when it has a 100-yard rusher, including a 5-1 record this year, and 49 of its last 57 contests when rushing at least 40 times in a game, including a 5-2 record this year. USU has also won 66 of its last 71 games when scoring at least 30 points, including a 4-0 record this season.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2023
• Heading into the 2023 season, Utah State will return 15 starters (O-5, D-10) and 45 letterwinners (O-20, D-22, S-3) from this year’s team. USU will lose seven starters (O-6, D-1) and 11 letterwinners (O-6, D-4, S-1).
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
• Utah State has won or shared 13 league titles in school history (1921, 1935, 1936, 1946, 1960, 1961, 1978, 1978, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2012, 2021).
UTAH STATE BOWL HISTORY
• Utah State has a 6-9 bowl record all-time as it lost to San José State, 20-0, in the 1946 Raisin Bowl (Fresno, Calif.); lost to Pacific, 35-21, in the 1947 Grape Bowl (Lodi, Calif.); lost to New Mexico State, 20-13, in the 1960 Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas); lost to Baylor, 24-9, in the 1961 Gotham Bowl (New York City); defeated Ball State, 42-33, in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl II; lost to Cincinnati, 35-19, in the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl; lost to Ohio, 24-23, in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl; defeated Toledo, 41-15, in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl; defeated No. 24 Northern Illinois, 21-14, in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl; defeated UTEP, 21-6, in the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl; lost to Akron, 23-21, in the 2015 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl; lost to New Mexico State, 26-20 in overtime, in the 2017 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl; defeated North Texas, 52-13, in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl; lost to Kent State, 51-41, in the 2019 Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl; and defeated Oregon State, 24-13, in the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State has only had eight players (5 offense, 3 defense) start all 12 games this year in graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs, graduate senior OL Chandler Dolphin, graduate senior OL Wade Meacham, graduate senior S Hunter Reynolds, graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr., senior ILB AJ Vongphachanh, graduate junior DE Daniel Grzesiak and freshman OL Weylin Lapuaho.
UTAH STATE 59TH IN THE NATION IN RUSHING
• Utah State’s offense is fourth in the MW and 59th in the nation in rushing (161.9 ypg), fourth in the MW and 92nd in the nation in total offense (362.1 ypg), fifth in the MW and 105th in the nation in passing offense (200.2 ypg), sixth in the MW and 71st in the nation in sacks allowed with 26 (2.17 pg), sixth in the MW and 98th in the nation in completion percentage (.575), sixth in the MW and 99th in the nation in scoring offense (23.2 ppg), and eighth in the MW and 113th in the nation in passing efficiency (116.5).
• Utah State’s offense is also fourth in the MW and 58th in the nation in fourth down conversions at 52.9 percent (18-of-34), and sixth in the MW and 63rd in the nation in tackles for loss allowed with 66 (5.50 pg).
UTAH STATE 25TH IN THE NATION IN PASSING DEFENSE
• Utah State is fifth in the Mountain West and 25th in the nation in passing defense (198.4 ypg), second in the MW and 31st in the nation in tackles for loss with 80 (6.7 pg), eighth in the MW and 63rd in the nation in passing efficiency defense (128.6), ninth in the MW and 89th in the nation in sacks with 23 (1.92 pg), 10th in the MW and 103rd in the nation in scoring defense (30.6 ppg), 11th in the MW and 84th in the nation in total defense (396.6 ypg), and 11th in the MW and 119th in the nation in rushing defense (198.2 ypg).
UTAH STATE HAS TWO DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS ON THE SEASON
• Utah State has scored two defensive touchdowns on the season, both coming in its last four games, to rank second in the Mountain West and 29th in the nation.
UTAH STATE HAS FORCED 17 TURNOVERS ON THE SEASON
• Utah State has forced 17 turnovers (11 interceptions, 6 fumbles) this year to rank seventh in the Mountain West and 62nd in the nation. USU is also fifth in the MW and 43rd in the nation with 11 interceptions (0.9 pg), and seventh in the MW and 87th in the nation in fumbles recovered with six (0.50 pg). Conversely, USU is fifth in the MW and 30th in the nation in fumbles lost with six (0.50 pg), and 12th in the MW and 129th in the nation in interceptions thrown with 18 (1.50 pg).
UTAH STATE SEVENTH IN THE NATION WITH THREE BLOCKED PUNTS
• Utah State is one of 12 teams in the nation that has blocked three punts this season (vs. Alabama, vs. UNLV, vs. San José State) as it is tied for seventh in the nation. USU also blocked an extra point against San José State as it ranks ninth in the nation in blocked kicks this year with four. In all, USU has blocked five punts in its last 14 games dating back to the 2021 season.
• Utah State is third in the Mountain West and 40th in the nation in punt returns (9.3 ypr), third in the MW and 43rd in the nation in punt return defense (5.6 ypr), third in the MW and 53rd in the nation in net punting (39.1 ypp), eighth in the MW and 56th in the nation in kickoff return defense (19.4 ypr), and eighth in the MW and 96th in the nation in kickoff returns (18.4 ypr).
AGGIES IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST AND NCAA RANKINGS
• Redshirt freshman S Ike Larsen is tied for first in the nation with three blocked kicks (0.27 pg), and is third in the MW and 17th in the nation with four interceptions (0.36 pg). Junior WR Terrell Vaughn is tied for second in the nation with his one kickoff return for touchdown (0.08 pg), and is third in the MW and 12th in the nation in kickoff returns (25.5 ypr), third in the MW in receiving touchdowns with five (0.42 pg), seventh in the MW in receptions (4.3 pg) and ninth in the MW in receiving (49.2 ypg). Senior RB Cooper Jones is first in the MW and 30th in the nation in punt returns (6.8 ypr). Junior CB Jamie Nance is third in the nation in fumbles recovered with three (0.25 pg). Junior CB Jaden Smith is second in the MW and sixth in the nation with one punt return for touchdown (0.08 pg). Graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs is third in the MW and 31st in the nation in receptions (5.8 pg), fourth in the MW and 59th in the nation in receiving (70.3 ypg), and seventh in the MW in receiving touchdowns with four (0.33 pg). Junior P Stephen Kotsanlee is fourth in the MW and 34th in the nation in punting (43.7 ypp). Junior QB Cooper Legas is fourth in the MW in points responsible for (8.7 pg), fourth in the MW and 68th in the nation in completion percentage (.615), fifth in the MW and 77th in the nation in yards per completion (11.45), fifth in the MW and 89th in the nation in total offense (193.7 ypg), fifth in the MW and 90th in the nation in completions (14.2 pg), fifth in the MW and 93rd in the nation with 11 passing touchdowns (1.22 pg), fifth in the MW and 93rd in the nation in passing (162.8 ypg), sixth in the MW and 71st in the nation in yards per attempt (7.01), and sixth in the MW and 82nd in the nation in passing efficiency (128.9). Graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. is fifth in the MW and 35th in the nation in rushing (86.9 ypg), and seventh in the MW and 77th in the nation in all-purpose yards (97.6 ypg). Graduate senior S Hunter Reynolds is fifth in the MW and 38th in the nation with three interceptions (0.25 pg). Senior WR Justin McGriff is seventh in the MW in receiving touchdowns with four (0.33 pg), and eighth in the MW in yards per reception (14.5). Graduate senior PK Connor Coles is ninth in the MW in scoring (6.5 ppg), ninth in the MW and 88th in the nation in field goal percentage (.688), and 10th in the MW and 73rd in the nation in field goals made with 10 (1.0 pg). Senior ILB AJ Vongphachanh is eighth in the MW and 89th in the nation in tackles (7.7 pg). And, graduate junior DE Daniel Grzesiak is 10th in the MW and 69th in the nation in sacks with 6.5 (0.54 pg).
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State is one of just five Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams with multiple kick returns for a touchdown this year as USU has returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown. Indiana has two kickoff returns for a touchdown, while Mississippi State, Oklahoma State and South Carolina have all returned one kickoff and one punt for a touchdown this season.
• Utah State is one of just 27 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams that has returned a kickoff for a touchdown this season and one of 28 teams that have returned a punt for a touchdown.
UTAH STATE WINS FIVE OF ITS FINAL SEVEN GAMES TO GET BOWL ELIGIBLE
• After starting the season with a 1-4 record, including four-straight losses, Utah State finished the regular season by winning five of its final seven games. One of the main reasons for USU’s recent success has been turnovers. During its first five games, USU was minus eight in turnovers as it committed 15 turnovers and forced seven. During its last seven games, USU is plus one in turnovers as it has committed nine turnovers and forced 10.
• This year’s team is just the third in school history to play in a bowl game after starting the season with a losing record. USU’s 1993 team started the year with a 1-5 record before winning its final six games, including its first-ever bowl win with a 42-33 victory against Ball State in the Las Vegas Bowl II. And, the 2011 team had a 2-5 record before winning five-straight games to snap a 14-year bowl drought as it played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
UTAH STATE BLOCKS TWO KICKS AGAINST THE SPARTANS
• For the second time under head coach Blake Anderson, Utah State blocked two kicks in a game as it blocked an extra point and punt against San José State (11/19), returning the blocked punt 56 yards for a touchdown. USU also blocked two punts at No. 19 San Diego State in the 2021 Mountain West Championship Game. Overall, USU has blocked four kicks this year (3 punts, 1 extra point) and seven kicks (5 punts, 1 field goal, 1 extra point) under Anderson. The school record for blocked kicks in a season is six set in 2012.
UTAH STATE WINNING GAMES IN ALL THREE PHASES
• Utah State has definitely maximized all three phases of its football team this year as it has scored three special teams touchdowns and two defensive touchdowns, to go along with its 30 offensive touchdowns. In fact, Utah State has scored four non-offensive touchdowns in its last four games as it had a special teams and defensive touchdown against New Mexico (fake field goal and fumble), a defensive touchdown against Hawai’i (interception), and a special teams touchdown against San José State (blocked punt).
UTAH STATE’S DEFENSE LIMITING POINTS FOLLOWING TURNOVERS
• Utah State’s opponents have scored just 46 points on 24 Aggie turnovers this season. If you take away three pick-sixes, USU’s defense has allowed just 25 points on 21 turnovers.
UTAH STATE WINS 11TH STRAIGHT ONE-SCORE GAME
• Utah State improved to 4-0 on the season in one-score games following its 35-31 victory against San José State (11/19). In fact, USU has won eight-straight one-score games under head coach Blake Anderson and 11 straight overall as its last loss in a one-score game was at Wake Forest (L, 35-38) to begin the 2019 campaign.
UTAH STATE HAS FIVE COME-FROM-BEHIND WINS THIS SEASON
• Utah State has had to come-from-behind to win five of its six games this year as it trailed UConn 14-0 in the first quarter before posting a 31-20 win, trailed Air Force 24-20 in the fourth quarter before posting a 34-27 win, scored 10 of the final 13 points to defeat Colorado State 17-13, after trailing 10-7 at halftime, scored the final 20 points to post a 27-10 home win against New Mexico, after trailing 10-7 at halftime, and scored a touchdown in the final three minutes against San José State for a 35-31 win.
• Overall, Utah State has won 12 games under head coach Blake Anderson when it has trailed at some point in the contest, which includes rallying from double-digit deficits in seven games.
• Utah State has won five games under Anderson when trailing in the fourth quarter, as it rallied to defeat Washington State, Air Force and UNLV last year, and Air Force and San José State this year.
• And, Utah State is a perfect 14-0 under Anderson, including a 5-0 record this year, when it has the lead heading into the fourth quarter.
AGGIES BITTEN BY INJURY BUG
• Utah State has had 15 starters miss a combined 53 games this season due to injury in graduate senior DT Phillip Paea (9), junior WR Kyle Van Leeuwen (9), graduate senior QB Logan Bonner (8), redshirt freshman DT Seni Tuiaki (8), junior ILB MJ Tafisi (4), senior CB Ajani Carter (3), senior CB Michael Anyanwu (2), junior QB Cooper Legas (2), junior DE Byron Vaughns (2), graduate senior OL Alfred Edwards (1), graduate senior OL Jacob South (1), senior DT Hale Motu’apuaka (1), junior TE Josh Sterzer (1), junior DT Poukesi Vakauta (1) and redshirt freshman S Ike Larsen (1).
• Utah State has had 39 different players make at least one start this season, which is tied for the 14th-most in the nation. USU has also had 22 players make their first-career start this year, while 30 players have made their Aggie debut this season.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State has played four different quarterbacks this year due to injury, including three different starters. First, graduate senior Logan Bonner suffered a season-ending injury against UNLV (9/24). Then, USU had to play three quarterbacks against Colorado State (10/15), as junior Cooper Legas and sophomore Levi Williams were both hurt in the game, which forced true freshman Bishop Davenport into action. Davenport also started the following weekend at Wyoming (10/22).
VAUGHN HAS CAREER GAME AGAINST BOISE STATE IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE
• Junior WR Terrell Vaughn had a career game in his last outing as he caught a career-high eight passes for a career-high 148 yards, including a career-long 75-yard reception for a touchdown. Overall, it was his first-career 100-yard receiving game. Vaughn also scored his first-career rushing touchdown on a 3-yard run as he had a career-high four carries for a career-best 22 yards, to go along with three kickoff returns for 44 yards as he finished the game with a career-high 214 all-purpose yards.
LEGAS HAS CAREER OUTING IN BOISE STATE GAME
• Junior QB Cooper Legas had a career game in his last outing at Boise State as he was 23-of-40 passing, both of which are career highs, for a career-best 306 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also carried the ball 15 times for 51 yards as he finished with 357 yards of total offense. Overall, it was his first-career 300-yard passing game and his fourth-career 200-yard passing game.
• In seven games as USU’s starting quarterback this year, Legas is 121-of-192 (.630) passing for 1,425 yards (203.6 ypg) with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and has rushed for 258 yards on 89 carries (2.9 ypc) and two touchdowns. Overall, USU is 5-2 with Legas as its starting quarterback.
• In the only other game where Legas saw significant playing time, he was 11-of-20 passing for 171 yards with two touchdowns (62, 5) and one interception in Utah State’s 24-13 win against Oregon State in the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. Against the Beavers, Legas became the first FBS quarterback ever to throw a touchdown on his first collegiate pass in a bowl game.
TYLER HAS 10-CAREER 100-YARD RUSHING GAMES
• Graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. recorded his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season and the 10th of his career against San José State (11/19), as he carried the ball 30 times for 125 yards and scored a career-high three touchdowns, which are the most by an Aggie since Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright both had three rushing touchdowns at Hawai’i in 2018.
• In his previous game at Hawai’i (11/12), Tyler carried the ball 25 times for 113 yards and one touchdown, and tied his career high with three receptions for a career-best 50 yards, including a career-long reception of 35 yards, for his first receiving touchdown this year and the second of his career.
• Tyler also rushed for 100 yards in three-straight games earlier this season with 104 yards against BYU (9/29)), 109 yards vs. Air Force (10/8) and 129 yards at Colorado State (10/15), and gained a career-high 162 yards on a career-best 33 carries against UConn (8/27) in the season opener.
• Tyler’s six 100-yard rushing games this year are the most by an Aggie since Joey DeMartino had seven 100-yard rushing games in 2013.
• Tyler’s six 100-yard rushing games this year are tied for the second-most in the Mountain West as Brad Roberts (Air Force) has 10, while George Holani (Boise State) and Tyler both have six.
TYLER 12TH ALL-TIME AT UTAH STATE IN RUSHING
• Graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. has rushed for 1,927 yards on 433 attempts (4.45 ypc) and 13 touchdowns in his Utah State career, which ranks 12th all-time in school history. Overall, Tyler is one of 33 Aggies to rush for 1,000 yards in a career and one of 14 Aggies to rush for 1,500 yards.
• During his collegiate career, which includes four years at Oregon State, Tyler has now rushed for 2,051 yards on 463 carries (4.43 ypc) and 15 touchdowns.
TYLER GOES OVER 1,000 RUSHING YARDS FOR THE SEASON
• Graduate senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. has rushed for 1,043 yards on 237 attempts (4.4 ypc) and seven touchdowns this year, becoming just the 15th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season for the 19th time, and the first to do so since Darwin Thompson gained 1,044 yards in 2018. His 1,043 yards are the 18th-most in a single season in school history.
COBBS HAS THREE 100-YARD RECEIVING GAMES THIS SEASON
• Graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs posted his third 100-yard receiving game this season and of his career as he tied his career high with 10 receptions for 122 yards on 15 targets against San José State (11/19). Cobbs also had eight receptions for a career-high 136 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown, against Air Force (10/8), and eight receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown against UConn (8/27). Cobbs also had a career-high 10 receptions for 96 yards and a career-high two touchdowns at No. 19 BYU (9/29). In his last nine games, Cobbs has 58 catches for 686 yards (11.8 ypr/76.2 ypg) and three touchdowns.
• Cobbs’ three 100-yard receiving games this year are tied for the third-most in the Mountain West as Tory Horton (Colorado St.) and Elijah Cooks (San José St.) both have five 100-yard receiving games, while Nikko Remigio (Fresno St.), Jalen Moreno-Cropper (Fresno State) and Cobbs all have three.
COBBS NINTH IN SINGLE-SEASON RECEPTIONS IN SCHOOL HISTORY
• Graduate senior WR Brian Cobbs has 70 catches for 844 yards this year and is tied with Mike Lee (1993) for the ninth-most receptions in a single season in school history.
McGRIFF GOES OVER 1,000 CAREER RECEIVING YARDS
• Senior WR Justin McGriff had six receptions for 76 yards in his last game at Boise State (11/25) and has now caught 80 passes for 1,037 yards in his career, becoming the 37th player in school history with 1,000 career receiving yards.
VAUGHNS HAS CAREER GAME AGAINST BOISE STATE
• Junior DE Byron Vaughns had a career game in his last outing at Boise State (11/25) as he had a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss, which included 1.0 sacks, as part of his six total tackles.
ALFORD HAS TEAM-HIGH SIX TACKLES AGAINST SAN JOSÉ STATE
• True freshman ILB Max Alford had a team-high six tackles in his second-career start against San José State (11/19) and is the first true freshman to lead the Aggies in tackles in a game since Paul Igboeli did so during the 2007 season.
• Alford was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Week following his performance against New Mexico (11/5), as he had a career-high eight tackles, which included a career-best 1.5 tackles for loss.
GRZESIAK TIES CAREER HIGH WITH SIX TACKLES AGAINST SPARTANS
• Graduate junior DE Daniel Grzesiak tied his career high with six tackles, which included 1.5 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss, against San José State (11/19). Overall, Grzesiak has tied his career high with six tackles in three of his last five games. In his last six games, Grzesiak has 30 tackles, which includes 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
MOTU’APUAKA TIES CAREER HIGHS AGAINST SAN JOSÉ STATE
• Senior DT Hale Motu’apuaka tied his career high with 2.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss as part of his five total tackles against San José State (11/19). Motu’apuaka also had 2.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss as part of his career-high seven tackles against UNLV (9/24) earlier this year.
CARTER PLAYS WELL IN FIRST GAME BACK IN A MONTH
• Senior CB Ajani Carter had four tackles and a career-high two pass breakups against San José State (11/19) as he had missed the previous three games with an injury suffered at Colorado State. Carter also had a pass breakup at Boise State (11/25) in his first start since the CSU game.
LARSEN NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Redshirt freshman S Ike Larsen was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week and the MW Freshman of the Week following his performance at Hawai’i (11/12), as he had six tackles, which included a career-high-tying 1.0 sacks and a career-best 2.0 tackles for loss, to go along with a career-high two interceptions, one of which he returned 36 yards for his first-career touchdown. Larsen is the first Aggie to have two interceptions in a game since Shaq Bond did so at UNLV last year, and he is the first USU player to return an interception for a touchdown since Bond did so at San Diego State in 2019.
• Larsen was also named the MW Freshman of the Week after recording a then-career-high seven tackles, to go along with an interception, and his first-career blocked punt at No. 1 Alabama.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS WITH LARSEN
• Redshirt freshman S Ike Larsen is the only player in the nation that has four interceptions, three blocked kicks and a defensive touchdown.
• Larsen is the highest-rated defensive back in the Mountain West and No. 7 nationally with an overall grade of 89.9% (ProFootballFocus). In fact, that grade is the second-highest among any player in the MW. He also ranks as the best pass coverage defensive back in the MW with a grade of 87.2%.
• Has allowed just nine receptions for 56 yards on 22 targets this year with no touchdowns and four interceptions, and quarterbacks have a QB rating of 9.1 when throwing at him.
• Larsen is the only freshman, and one of just 23 players in the nation at the FBS level, with four interceptions. Is one of just two players in the MW with at least four interceptions.
• Larsen is the only freshman, and one of just four players in the nation at the FBS level, with four blocked kicks. Is the only player in the MW with four blocked kicks.
• Larsen is one of just eight freshmen in the nation to return an interception for a touchdown.
AGGIE TO KEEP YOUR EYES ON
#27 | Hunter Reynolds | S | 6-0 | 200 | G-SR | South Orange, New Jersey | Michigan
• Was named a ProFootballFocus Honorable Mention All-American this fall.
• Tied his season high with 10 tackles in his last game at Boise State (11/25), as he now has three double-digit tackle outings this year and four in his career.
• Tied his season high with 10 tackles against New Mexico (11/5), to go along with his first-career touchdown, as he returned a fumble 55 yards for the score.
• Has started all 12 games this year and ranks fourth in the Mountain West and 35th in the nation with three interceptions, which is second on the team. Is also second on the team with seven pass breakups and 88 tackles.
• Has recorded at least four tackles in every game this year, including a season-high 10 against Weber State (9/10), New Mexico (11/5) and Boise State (11/25). Also had a career-high two pass breakups vs. Air Force (10/8).
• Played in all 14 games, making 12 starts, in his first season at Utah State in 2021 and was second on the team with 83 tackles.
• Spent four years at Michigan (2017-20) and appeared in 20 games as he recorded 22 tackles.
LARSEN SETS SCHOOL RECORD WITH THIRD BLOCKED PUNT OF THE SEASON
• Utah State S Ike Larsen blocked his third punt of the season against San José State (11/19), which was returned 56 yards for a touchdown. Larsen also blocked a punt against UNLV (9/24), which resulted in a safety. Larsen’s first blocked punt of the year was at No. 1 Alabama. Larsen’s three blocked kicks are the most in a single season in school history. The previous record is two blocked kicks, done most recently by Louy Compton and DJ Nelson in 2017.
NANCE HAS RECOVERED THREE MUFFED PUNTS THIS SEASON
• Junior CB Jamie Nance has recovered three muffed punts this season against Hawai’i (11/12), New Mexico (11/5) and Wyoming (10/22), and all three of those recoveries have led to points as USU scored a touchdown following the muffed punt at Wyoming, and converted field goals following the muffed punt against both New Mexico and Hawai’i.
SMITH RETURNS BLOCKED PUNT FOR A TOUCHDOWN AGAINST SPARTANS
• Utah State junior CB Jaden Smith returned a blocked punt 56 yards for a touchdown against San José State (11/19) for his first-career score. Overall, it was USU’s first touchdown following a blocked punt since doing so against UNLV in 2018.
COLES NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Graduate senior PK Connor Coles was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week as he scored a career-high-tying 15 points in Utah State’s 27-10 Mountain West home win against New Mexico (11/5). Coles, who was 2-of-3 on field goals (49, 27) and 3-for-3 on extra points, scored his first-career touchdown on a 6-yard run on a fake field goal. Coles was also named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week against New Mexico in 2020 and against Washington State in 2021.
COLES IN THE UTAH STATE RECORD BOOKS
• Graduate senior PK Connor Coles is 11-of-16 this year and 34-of-48 (.708) in his career on field goals and ranks sixth all-time in career field goal percentage. Coles, who is eighth all-time at USU in field goals made and attempted, is 94-of-97 (.969) all-time in extra points and that percentage ranks as the eighth-best all-time at USU. He is also fourth all-time in both extra points made and attempted.
KOTSANLEE NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Junior P Stephen Kotsanlee was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week for the first time in his career following his performance at Colorado State (10/15), as he punted five times for an average of 47.2 yards with three 50-yard punts (58, 55, 59), to go along with one punt being downed inside the 20-yard line.
• Kotsanlee has 22 punts this year and 35 in his career of at least 50 yards, to go along with 23 punts this year and 59 in his career that have been downed inside the 20-yard line. His 43.8 average this season is the fifth-best in school history for a single season.
• Overall, Kotsanlee has punted 152 times in his career for an average of 42.6 yards, which is the fourth-best average in school history. This year, Kotsanlee has punted 62 times for an average of 43.8 yards, which is tied for the fifth-best average in school history. Last season, Kotsanlee punted 53 times for an average of 42.5 yards, which is the 10th-best single-season average in school history.
• As a freshman in 2020, Kotsanlee earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors as he punted 37 times for an average of 40.7 yards.
VAUGHN SCORES FIRST-CAREER TOUCHDOWN ON KICKOFF RETURN
• Junior WR Terrell Vaughn returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Weber State (9/10), which is the first of his career, and tied for the third-longest in school history. It is also one of eight kickoff returns in school history that have gone at least 100 yards.
AGGIES WHO HAVE SERVED LDS CHURCH MISSIONS
• Utah State has 11 players on its 2022 roster who have served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in senior OL Wade Meacham, junior TE Josh Sterzer, junior WR Kyle Van Leeuwen, redshirt freshman CB Ty Barnett, redshirt freshman DT Johnson Hansen, redshirt freshman ILB Sione Moa, redshirt freshman DT Seni Tuiaki, redshirt freshman WR Timm Van Leeuwen, freshman P Ryan Marks, freshman ILB Bronson Olevao and freshman OL Adam Pond.
AGGIES WHO ARE MARRIED
• Utah State has three players on its 2022 roster who are married in senior OL Wade Meacham, junior TE Josh Sterzer and sophomore OL Cole Motes.
• Utah State has 21 players on its roster that have already received their bachelor’s degree and or graduate degree in senior CB Michael Anyanwu, senior QB Logan Bonner, senior WR Brian Cobbs, senior PK Connor Coles, senior OL Chandler Dolphin, senior OL Alfred Edwards, senior WR Justin McGriff, senior OL Wade Meacham, senior DT Phillip Paea, senior S Hunter Reynolds, senior OL Jacob South, senior CB Xavion Steele, senior RB Calvin Tyler Jr., junior DE Daniel Grzesiak, junior DE Patrick Joyner, junior OL Calvin Knapp, junior QB Cooper Legas, junior LB MJ Tafisi, junior DE Byron Vaughns, sophomore CB Jamie Nance and sophomore QB Levi Williams.
HEAD COACH BLAKE ANDERSON
• Blake Anderson (hired on Dec. 12, 2020) is in his second year as Utah State’s head coach and is the 29th head coach in program history. He has a 68-46 overall record, including a 49-23 conference mark. He has posted a 17-9 record at USU, including a 11-5 Mountain West record.
• Anderson has 29 years of coaching experience and has been part of six conference championships. This will be his 12th bowl game as a coach and he won a national championship at the junior college level.
• In his first season at Utah State, Anderson led the Aggies to their first-ever Mountain West Championship with a 46-13 win at No. 19 San Diego State, their sixth bowl win in school history with a 24-13 victory against Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, and a school-record-tying 11 wins as USU was picked to finish fifth in the Mountain Division of the MW in the preseason polls.
• Under Anderson, Utah State tied for the best turnaround in the nation in 2021 as the Aggies became the first FBS program ever to go from zero or one win to 11 wins the following season.
• During the 2021 season, Utah State set 10 school records, including 4,248 passing yards and 41 touchdown passes, and tied four more as it became the first FBS program in eight years to go 7-0 on the road. USU also ranked 15th in the nation in passing offense (303.4 ypg) and 23rd in total offense (445.6 ypg), and was top three in the MW in passing offense, total offense and scoring offense (32.6 ppg).
• Anderson, who was named the AFCA Region 5 Coach of the Year in 2021 at Utah State, mentored a pair of Aggies that broke several single-season school records in quarterback Logan Bonner and wide receiver Deven Thompkins. Bonner set school records in passing touchdowns (36) and passing yards (3,628), while Thompkins set school records for receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,704).
• Overall, Anderson saw nine of his players earn all-Mountain West honors, including Thompkins, who was named a third-team All-American by The Associated Press.
• Anderson came to Utah State after spending seven years as the head coach at Arkansas State, leading ASU to six-consecutive winning seasons and six-straight bowl games from 2014-19, including a 31-13 win against UCF in the 2016 Cure Bowl and a 34-26 win against FIU in the 2019 Camellia Bowl. ASU also won back-to-back Sun Belt Conference Championships under Anderson in 2015 and 2016, and competed for another in 2017.
• During that six-year stretch, the Red Wolves broke 12 school records, including 494.8 yards of total offense per game, 4,106 passing yards and 38 touchdown passes in 2017, 520 points scored and 69 total touchdowns in 2015, and 6,174 yards of total offense and 1,024 total plays in 2014.
• The Red Wolves won at least seven games, including at least five league games, six-straight years under Anderson, including a nine-victory campaign in 2015 and eight-win seasons in 2016, 2018 and 2019. In all, Anderson posted a 51-37 (.580) record at ASU, including a 38-18 (.679) mark in the Sun Belt Conference. Those 51 wins, 40 of which were by double digits, are tied for the third-most in school history.
• Statistically, Arkansas State annually ranked as one of the top offensive teams in the nation under Anderson. In 2020, the Red Wolves led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked 15th nationally in total offense at 489.7 yards per game. ASU also led the Sun Belt in total offense in 2018 (466.2 ypg), 2017 (494.8 ypg) and 2014 (476.5 ypg), and ranked second in 2015 (438.5 ypg). Furthermore, the 2017 team ranked 10th in the nation in total offense, while the 2018 team was 17th and the 2014 team was 20th nationally.
• As for passing offense, Arkansas State led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked third in the nation in 2020 at 364.4 yards per game. In 2019, the Red Wolves finished second in the conference and 10th in the nation with 312.1 passing yards per game. ASU also led the Sun Belt in passing offense in both 2017 and 2018 with 342.2 and 281.5 passing yards per game, respectively. The 2017 team also ranked fifth nationally in that category, while the 2018 team was 21st in the nation.
• Arkansas State also led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring offense three times under Anderson as the 2017 team averaged 37.8 points per game to rank 13th nationally, while the 2015 team averaged 40.0 points per game to rank 12th in the nation, and the 2014 team averaged 36.7 points per game to rank 18th nationally. In fact, six of Anderson’s seven Red Wolves’ teams averaged over 30 points per game.
• Overall, each of Anderson’s first six squads at Arkansas State ranked among the top-45 teams in the nation in at least 23 combined offensive, defensive and special teams categories, including the 2018 team that led the nation in punt return defense (-1.9 yards per return), the 2016 team that led the nation in tackles for loss (9.6 per game) and the 2015 squad that led the nation in both defensive touchdowns (8) and passes intercepted (26).
• Following the 2019 campaign, Anderson received the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award and was named the Grant Teaff Coach of the Year, presented annually by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as he guided the Red Wolves to an 8-5 record and Camellia Bowl championship after his wife, Wendy, passed away prior to the start of the season following a courageous battle with cancer.
• A two-year letterwinner at wide receiver for Sam Houston State from 1990-91, Anderson was named Southland Conference all-academic as a senior. He also played for two years as a quarterback and receiver at Baylor (1988-89). Anderson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from SHSU in 1992. He also attained his master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern New Mexico in 1994.
BLAKE ANDERSON CONCLUDING SECOND SEASON AT UTAH STATE
• Blake Anderson is concluding his second season as Utah State’s head coach after leading the Aggies to their best-ever season in his first year in 2021 as USU tied the school record with 11 wins (11-3, 6-2 MW), won its first-ever Mountain West Championship with a 46-13 victory at No. 19 San Diego State, posted a 24-13 win against Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl and finished the season ranked 24th in the nation in both polls.
• Anderson was one of 19 first-year head coaches at the FBS level in 2021 and was the only one to win nine or more games. Anderson is also the only first-year head coach in school history to win double-digit games. The previous record was nine wins set by Matt Wells in 2013.
• Anderson was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region 5 Coach of the Year in 2021 and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.
• Anderson has won three conference championships as a head coach with two Sun Belt titles at Arkansas State (2015, 2016), along with one Mountain West title at Utah State (2021). Anderson coached in his seventh bowl game in eight seasons last year and has a 3-4 bowl record.
UTAH STATE RETURNS MAJORITY OF ITS COACHING STAFF
• Utah State is returning eight of its 10 full-time assistants, as only cornerbacks coach Ray Brown (Washington State) and defensive line coach Al Lapuaho (Nevada) did not return. Those eight returning assistants are the most since the 2010 staff returned all nine of its assistant coaches from the previous season.
• Utah State is returning all three of its coordinators in Anthony Tucker (offense), Ephraim Banda (defense) and Nick Paremski (special teams) for the first time since 2013, when Kevin McGiven (offense), Todd Orlando (defense) and Dave Ungerer (special teams) were each in their second seasons, respectively.
• Utah State head coach Blake Anderson has three former Aggies on staff in running backs coach Chuckie Keeton (2011-15), tight ends coach DJ Tialavea (2010-13) and director of player personnel Austin Albrecht (2014-16).
BANDA ONE OF TWO HISPANIC DEFENSIVE COORDINATORS IN THE NATION
• Utah State defensive coordinator and safeties coach Ephraim Banda is one of only two hispanic defensive coordinators in the nation at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level along with Penn State’s Manny Diaz. Overall, Banda is one of 13 hispanic coaches at the FBS level, which includes five head coaches.
• Banda was also named one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation in January of 2021, by Rivals.com.
CEFALO HAS COACHED THREE-STRAIGHT BILETNIKOFF SEMIFINALISTS
• Utah State passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Kyle Cefalo had coached a Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist in each of his last three seasons prior to this year. In his first year at USU in 2021, Cefalo coached Deven Thompkins, who set school records with 102 receptions for 1,704 yards. At Arkansas State, Cefalo coached Jonathan Adams in 2020 and Omar Bayless in 2019, as both players were named Sun Belt Conference Offensive Players of the Year.
UTAH STATE HAS MOST DIVERSE COACHING STAFF IN THE NATION
• For the second straight year, Utah State is the only staff in the nation that has minority coaches serving in the roles of offensive coordinator (Anthony Tucker), defensive coordinator (Ephraim Banda) and head strength and conditioning coach (Paul Jackson).
• Of Utah State’s 10 full-time assistant coaches, six are minorities, which is tied for the fifth-most minorities on a staff in the nation behind Hawai’i (8), Miami, Fla. (8), Northern Illinois (7) and Virginia (7), and tied with Arizona State, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia State, Illinois, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Penn State, Rice and Texas A&M.
UTAH STATE HAS THE THIRD-YOUNGEST COACHING STAFF IN THE NATION
• Of Utah State’s 10 full-time assistant coaches, two are in their 20s, five are in their 30s and three are in their 40s. The average age of those 10 assistants is 35.1 years, which ranks as the third-youngest staff in the nation behind Old Dominion (33.5) and Georgia State (35.0).
DID YOU KNOW?
• For just the second time in program history, Utah State is returning its head coach, Blake Anderson, after finishing the previous season nationally ranked. John Ralston is the only other Aggie head coach to return as his 1961 team finished that season ranked 10th in the nation in both the AP and UPI polls with a 9-1-1 record. The three other times USU concluded a season nationally ranked, its head coach left for another head coaching position. Chuck Mills went to Wake Forest after the 1972 team went 8-3 record and was 19th in the final UPI poll. Gary Andersen went to Wisconsin after the 2012 team finished the year 16th in the AP poll and 17th in the Coaches poll as it went 11-2 and set the school record for wins. And, Matt Wells went to Texas Tech after the 2018 team finished the year 21st in the Coaches poll and 22nd in the AP poll as it went 11-2 and tied the school record for wins.
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