Gray, Mays ‘questionable’ for Friday’s home game
The good news for Utah State football fans is running back Devante Mays and cornerback Daniel Gray don’t appear to have season-ending injuries.
Aggie head coach Matt Wells has a policy not to talk about injuries that aren’t of the season-ending variety, but did mention during Monday’s press conference that both players are “questionable” for Friday’s home game against defending Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State.
Gray went down for an extended period of time after making an outstanding defensive play in the first quarter of last Saturday’s 45-7 road loss to USC. The senior was immobilized and carted off the field on a stretcher, but was able to join his teammates in the locker room after the game.
“That was crazy what happened to him,” fellow Aggie corner Jalen Davis said. “The whole defense was down, we were sad and feeling for him. But then we knew we needed to go out there and try to just play for him. But we had so many mistakes, so that’s what killed us. I’m just happy he’s OK and moving around now, so that’s a good thing.”
Mays, one of the Mountain West’s top tailbacks, went down in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury and did not return. The senior was seen on the sidelines on crutches during the second half, but was able to walk on his own power later in the game.
Wells called Mays a “game-time decision” for Friday’s final tune-up before the Mountain West portion of the season.
“I’ll have more information from our doctors … late (Monday) afternoon,” Wells said.
Another Aggie who was shaken up against the Trojans was standout boundary safety Dallin Leavitt, who took a vicious block to the side from USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster at the end of the second quarter. Wells was asked about the hit during Monday’s press conference and he thought it “was legal.”
“The guy used his shoulder,” Wells said. “It’s very, very close. You’re talking about inches.”
To his credit, Leavitt picked himself off the field, passed a concussion protocol test and returned to the field in the second half, where he finished with five tackles, bringing his total in the game to 15. It’s the most tackles by a USU safety since all-Mountain West first-team honoree Frankie Sutera had 15 stops against Boise State in 2014.
“He is a tremendous and passionate leader,” Wells said of Leavitt. “He’s one that when I say, ‘You lead first by production,’ he’s absolutely produced two straight weeks and he’s leading by production. He’s an emotional and vocal leader, too, and our players recognize that and respect that.”
Wells was also asked about the NCAA’s targeting rule Monday, and he spoke in favor of it.
“I think the officials are doing a good job of managing that,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely good for the game because it’s taking target zones lower, so hopefully the studies will show that there’s less concussions and less injuries. So, I think it’s for the safety of the players and I’m for it.”
Leavitt was one of several players Wells singled out for their performances against the Trojans. Offensively, the former Aggie quarterback was pleased with the play of receivers Ron’Quavion Tarver and Rayshad Lewis, and tight end Wyatt Houston. Defensively, Wells was especially pleased with linebacker Anthony Williams, nose guard Travis Seefeldt and Gray.
Wells was also very happy with the accuracy signal caller Kent Myers displayed on back-to-back deep passes to Jaren Colston-Green and Logan High product Chad Artist. Myers hit Colston-Green in stride for a season-high 42-yard reception, while the pass to Artist was broken up at the last second in the end zone.
“Ron’Quavion Tarver and Jaren Colston-Green have both earned the right to play more,” Wells said. “They hadn’t earned the right before this, but now they have.”
AFA game finalized
The Aggies now know when their Homecoming game against Air Force starts Saturday, Sept. 24, and on what TV station it will be broadcast. USU’s Mountain West opener will start at 8:15 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
MW weekly honors
A pair of San Diego State players were honored for their performances in the Aztecs’ wild 45-40 home triumph vs. Cal last Saturday. Running back Donnel Pumphrey was selected as the league’s Offensive Player of the Week, while return specialist/tailback Rashaad Penny is the Special Teams POTW.
Pumphrey burned the Golden Bears for a career-high 281 rushing yards — which ranks fifth for a single game in program history — and a trio of touchdowns on 29 carries. The senior broke legend Marshall Faulk’s career rushing record at SDSU in the process. Pumphrey now has 4,651 career yards on the ground, 62 more than Faulk.
Penny returned a kickoff 100 yards to the house against Cal. It was the fourth time the junior has taken a kickoff to paydirt, which is a school record.
Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton was dubbed the Mountain West Defensive POTW after making arguably the biggest play of the game in the Broncos’ narrow 31-28 home victory over Washington State. The sophomore returned an interception 85 yards for a score — the sixth-longest INT return in BSU history — and added five tackles.