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Utah State coach Gary Andersen has spent the last eight weeks pushing his team hard, both cajoling the Aggies and criticizing them when necessary.
Saturday's 49-27 win at San Jose State showed the tough love has paid off.
At least for one week, the Aggies showed true balance. The offense, inconsistent for much of the year, put up points in bunches, revealing an explosiveness that the coaching staff and fans have been anticipating all year. Defensively, Utah State put up a school-record 13 quarterback sacks and made every big stop it needed to.
Together, it made Andersen a happy coach. USU finally showed the potential Andersen has been seeking. A week after scoring just a measly field goal against BYU, the Aggies broke out in a major way.
"You know, this is a light-hearted bunch at times," Andersen said. "It's a team that has kids who believe in themselves, a team that thinks it has the chance to be good. I was proud of the way they played, and I told them that. They know that they have a lot of work to do. And I hope that can negate any kind of complacency."
The Aggies have won five of their first seven games for the first time in more than 30 seasons. They have done it with speed, Chuckie Keeton's quarterback play, the running of Kerwynn Williams and an opportunistic defense.
Aside from Louisiana Tech, the tough part of Utah State's schedule is over. With Idaho, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio on the slate in addition to Saturday's matchup with New Mexico State in Logan, a nine-win season seems within reach.
People are noticing. Representatives from the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl witnessed Saturday's win over the Spartans, and the oddsmakers in Las Vegas anointed the Aggies 30-point favorites over NMSU. Freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell was named the Western Athletic Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive time.
It's shaping up to be a dream season for the Aggies, but don't tell the coach that.
"I can't look past my 1:45 p.m. meeting," Andersen said. "A lot of things could be, but we have to be focused on the present."
New Mexico Stateat Utah State
P Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • KMYU