USU football • Season's primary goals remain in reach.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
At the end of each practice and workout this season, Utah State gathers into a group and breaks away with the same two words.
So, it should come as no surprise that the disappointment of Friday night's 6-3 loss at BYU gave way to hope and expectation by the conclusion of the night.
The Aggies face San Jose State this Saturday in their Western Athletic Conference opener. It will be a confident team that travels to the Bay Area. USU has won four of its first six games, and is arguably a field-goal kicker away from being unbeaten, having lost this season by a combined five points.
"It's all in front of us," senior receiver Matt Austin said. "Our goals are the same that they were when the season started. We want to win the conference and we want to get to a good bowl game and win that bowl game. All of those goals are very reachable. We just have to go out and get them."
It won't be easy for Utah State.
The Aggies no longer have to compete with the likes of Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii, teams that have been difficult for USU to compete with in the past. At the same time, Louisiana Tech is unbeaten with one of its best teams in school history and an offense that scores points like most of us breathe very easily.
And San Jose is better than anyone thought heading into the season. The Spartans are a one-loss group with a win over San Diego State on their résumé and another hotshot offense.
Utah State has the misfortune of playing its two biggest WAC games away from Romney Stadium this season: Saturday at San Jose State, and Nov. 17 at Louisiana Tech.
Even if the remainder of the league is relatively weak, and even if bowl eligibility should be very attainable for the Aggies this season, winning the league would go down as an achievement.
"The kids know what they want and it would be a great accomplishment for this team," USU coach Gary Andersen said. "We think we can go out there and get that done."
To do so, the Aggies have to fix an inconsistent offense that completely sputtered against BYU. And they have to protect quarterback Chuckie Keeton better; he got hit way too much against the Cougars.
But with a very good and athletic defense and the confidence of its best start in over 30 seasons, Utah State believes it can win what will likely be the last WAC championship.
That conference run starts on Saturday.
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Utah State at San Jose State
P Saturday, 2 p.m.