Wells waiting to hear more about injuries
Not only did Utah State lose its first home game against a Mountain West opponent since the 2014 season last Saturday night, it might have lost two of its best players for a significant period of time, if not the season.
Running back Devante Mays (right knee) and safety Dallin Leavitt (right ankle) suffered what appeared to be significant injuries during the Aggies’ 27-20 loss to Air Force in the conference opener for both football teams. Both players were helped off the field after a lengthy delay and went to the locker room on crutches.
USU head coach Matt Wells was asked about both players during Monday’s press conference and said he’ll know more Monday evening once X-rays and MRIs are taken care of.
“If they’re out for an extended period of time, I’ll let you know,” Wells told the media. “And it they’re not, it will be day to day and we won’t really talk about it anymore.”
USU tight end Wyatt Houston was also shaken up a couple of times against the Falcons, but Wells said he is “fine” and referred to him as “a warrior.” The former Aggie quarterback went on to praise Houston for how well he blocked during the game.
Wells was also asked about the three questionable calls that all went in Air Force’s favor, two of which happened on the same drive. Wells was diplomatic when talking about the calls, but definitely appeared agitated by the decisions.
“The plays that include a touchdown and points on the board and the plays that include a turnover, which is a fourth down if it gets overturned, are critical, critical, critical to the flow of a game,” Wells said. “And they should always be right by replay, so I’ll just leave it at that.”
The first one was a well-placed 34-yard pass from Kent Myers to Ron’quavion Tarver that would have given the Aggies a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. The official ruled Tarver never had control of the ball, USU challenged the ruling on the field and the decision was upheld following a video review.
Two plays later, Myers connected with Andrew Rodriguez for a 7-yard pass on fourth-and-two to the AFA 21-yard line. However, the decision on the field was overturned — it was ruled the ball made contact with the ground — following a challenge by the Falcons.
Rodriguez, who finished with a career-high seven receptions in the game, was asked about that play during Monday’s press conference.
“As a receiver, I’m going to say I caught it,” Rodriguez said. “I thought I caught it, too, but, I mean, it happened really fast. I was able to watch the TV copy and have an idea from a better angle, (and) I still think I caught it. But it’s over with now and what I think doesn’t matter.”
The third call that went against the Aggies took place with a little more than five minutes remaining in the game. Myers was sacked and coughed the ball up at the USU 12-yard line. The ground appeared to cause Myers to lose control of the pigskin, but it was ruled a fumble on the field and the decision was confirmed following a replay.
Air Force took advantage of the short field, finding paydirt on a 1-yard plunge by Jacobi Owens six plays later to give the visitors what proved to be an insurmountable 24-13 advantage.
Greg Burks, the Mountain West’s coordinator of football officials, allows coaches to contact him about calls they feel are questionable during the course of a season — something Wells has taken advantage of.
“They always give me a response. They’re very professional, very thorough,” Wells said. “We just don’t get to go back and hit replay. You don’t get to go back and review them, (and) that’s OK.”
Who stood out
Wells singled out several Aggies for their solid play against the Falcons, including aforementioned players Rodriguez, Tarver, Myers and Houston. Defensively, Wells was very pleased with inside linebackers Alex Huerta and Anthony Williams, cornerback Jalen Davis and nose guard Gasetoto Schuster. Wells asserted it was Schuster’s “best game at nose guard” since arriving in Logan.
Locals vs. AFA
Huerta (Mountain Crest) led the Aggies with a career-high 13 tackles against the Falcons. Fellow starting linebacker Derek Larsen (Logan) added five stops. Jacoby Wildman (Logan) made a tackle on special teams. DJ Nelson completed a 12-yard pass to former Logan teammate Jake Thompson on a fake field goal attempt. Two of Thompson’s five kickoffs went for touchbacks. Brock Warren (Sky View) booted field goals of 22 and 23 yards. Chad Artist (Logan) saw playing time as a wide receiver, but wasn’t targeted in the game.
Boise State tailback Jeremy McNichols was selected as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 208 yards and a trio of TDs on 28 carries in the Broncos’ 38-24 road win over Oregon State. McNichols also had a TD reception.
Air Force’s Haji Dunn Jr. was tabbed the league’s Defensive POTW. No. 34 finished with seven tackles, including 2.0 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery against the Aggies.
BSU’s Sean Wale was the MW Specials Teams POTW. Wale averaged 46.5 yards on six punts vs. the Beavers.