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After several weeks of facing run-oriented offenses, Utah State's secondary will once again be put to the test this Friday when the Aggies host San Jose State.
The Spartans (3-7, 2-4) might be at the bottom of the league in the standings, but the Aggies have a lot of respect for their passing game, which is producing 284.4 yards a game.
Tyler Winston leads the receivers with 68 receptions for 633 yards and five touchdowns, Hansell Wilson has 33 catches for 401 yards and three touchdowns and Jabari Carr has 28 receptions for 349 yards and three touchdowns.
USU coach Matt Wells said he also counts running back Tyler Ervin as a dual threat because he is so versatile.
"They've got as good of wideouts as we've seen in a long time, collectively," he said. "They're a tremendously talented team that poses many issues for us on both sides of the ball."
USU's defense is ninth in the league giving up 250.3 passing yards a game.
Utah State linebacker Zach Vigil said the Aggies considered the Spartans a dangerous team, even if the outcomes indicate otherwise.
"The running back's a good player, he keeps his legs going," he said. "Obviously they're always going to be a challenge at the wide receiver spot, they're always talented there."
Vigil is one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given annually to the most outstanding player in the country who started his career as a walk-on.
Vigil is the only player from the MWC or the state of Utah to be among the semifinalists.
The Clearfield native walked on as a freshman in 2010 and was awarded a scholarship prior to his sophomore season after appearing in four games as a freshman.
He has developed into one of the Aggies' best linebackers, ranking eighth all-time with 347 tackles and is just one of four players to record 100-plus tackles in three different seasons. He leads the team this year with 114 tackles an ranks first in tackles for loss (15) and second in sacks (6.5).
Wells said Vigil has been one of the key leaders for the team this season.
"It's like he's put everybody on his back, that defense and I would say our team as a whole," he said. "He willed it upon everybody to play better and he's done it by performance and by vocal leadership."
Punter Jaron Bentrude, who was an honorable mention national punter of the week by the College Football Performance Awards, has 11 punts of 50 or more yards this season while 29 of his 70 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line, a stat that ranks him 14th nationally.
Bentrude averaged 44.4 yards a punt against New Mexico, prompting Wells to single him out as a weapon for the Aggies.
"It allows [defensive coordinator] Todd Orlando to call a game from a defensive perspective a lot more aggressively," Wells said. "It gives you a shot of adrenaline a little bit from the defensive perspective."
USU assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mark Weber spent six years (1997-2002) coaching with SJSU coach Ron Caragher at UCLA. … Thanks to the high number of injuries sustained this year, the Aggies have started 22 different players on offense. … San Jose State held Hawaii to a season-low 240 yards of offense last week in the 13-0 win. It was the fifth time this season a San Jose opponent has had less than 300 yards.
San Jose State at Utah State
O Friday, 7:30 p.m.
TV • ESPN2