April 20, 2024

Memphis is Dallas Bound. Servpro First Responders Bowl Preview – Who Are the Aggies?

Photo Credits - CollegePressBox.com
Photo Credits – CollegePressBox.com

Memphis fans have grown accustomed to bowl game road trips under Ryan Silverfield, and this is now the third consecutive under him as a head coach. Silverfield also holds a bowl game victory, with their 25-10 victory over Florida Atlantic, in 2020, in the Montgomery Bowl. Memphis will be participating in its 16th bowl appearance as a program. With a win, Silverfield would join Tommy West as the only two Memphis coaches with two bowl victories.

The Tigers are Back in Dallas

Photo Credits- Raymond Chiozza Photography

It’s Bowl Season again for Memphis fans as they make the trip to Dallas, Texas, and the Servpro First Responders Bowl, to take on the Utah State Aggies Both Memphis and Utah State have been household names in bowl games as of late. Memphis is now in their ninth consecutive bowl game, while the Aggies are in their fifth game in six seasons. The Tigers and Aggies come in with 6-6 records and will be looking to close the season with a win. Let’s have a look at the opponent. Who are the Utah State Aggies?

Who are the Utah State Aggies?

Utah State comes from the Mountain West Conference, where they finished with a 5-3 record as they compete in their thirteenth bowl in school history. The Aggies had to come from behind in five of their six wins this season. The Aggies won five of their seven final games to finish the season, including a 35-31 win over San Jose State to become bowl eligible. In their most recent game, Utah State would fall to Boise State 42-23 on the road. Utah State has now won six games for the 39th time in school history, and a win against Memphis would put them at seven or more wins for the eighth time in twelve seasons. This team has sustained injuries, as 39 players have made at least one start this season. The Aggies also have had 22 players make their first career start, and 30 have made their Aggie debut this season.

Head Coach – Blake Anderson

Led by second-year head coach Blake Anderson, the Aggies will look to continue their success under him as he has a 17-9 record. Anderson is only the second coach in school history, along with Matt Wells, to lead the Aggies to a bowl game in their first two seasons. In school history, Anderson is the fifth coach in multiple bowl games. He could join Wells as the only head coach to win consecutive bowl games in the first seasons. The Aggies have talent across the field, as Anderson has again shown his ability to recruit and develop players.

Offense-

The catalyst of the Aggies’ offense is its running attack. Senior running back Calvin Tyler Jr has rushed for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns on 237 carry this season. As an Aggie the last two seasons, Tyler has amassed 1,927 yards and is only 73 yards shy of becoming the eleventh Aggie to accomplish this. To further this point, the Aggies running attack ranks fourth in the MAC and 59th nationally with 161,9 per game. Utah State ranks fourth in conference and 92nd in total offense with 362.1 per game, and 105th nationally in passing offense with 200.2 per game. This offense averages 23.2 points per game and will be looking to score on a Memphis defense that gives up points. The quarterback position has been one of influx as starter Cooper Legas is now the man. There have been four players at this position this season for the Aggies. 

Defense-

On the defensive side of the ball, there is talent on all three levels. This season, this defense has shown they are on to take seriously. The Aggies are ranked 25th nationally in passing defense, only allowing 198.4 yards per game, 31st in tackles for loss, with 80 total {6.7 per game}, and 88th in sacks with 23 total {1.92 per game}. This defense is opportunistic as they have forced 17 turnovers this season {11 interceptions, six fumbles} which ranks them 6th in the conference and 43rd nationally. In the last four games, the Aggies have scored their only two defensive touchdowns, which ranks 2nd in the conference and 29th nationally. The players to watch on this side of the ball are the defensive end, David Vaughns, who had a career game against Boise State with 3/5 tackles for loss, including a sack. Freshman safety, Ike Larsen, has been everywhere in this secondary. His two interceptions against UNLV, combined with a pick-six, made history as the second player to ever accomplish this with the Aggies. Larsen is the only player in the nation with four interceptions, three blocked kicks, and a touchdown on defense. He has been a lockdown defender by allowing 56 yards on 22 targets for zero touchdowns and four interceptions this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passing rating of 9.1 when passing at him.

Special Teams-

This team is highly efficient at the level of the group. Larsen, as mentioned earlier, has blocked three punts this season. First, coming against Alabama, then against UNLV, and lastly, against Sa Jose State. They have recovered three muffed punts and scored a touchdown following a punt against Wyoming. This unit has won games for this team and will be something to keep an eye on. This unit is dangerous on both sides of the ball.

How To Watch

We now have a better understanding as to who is this season’s bowl opponent for Memphis. It will be an exciting matchup in Dallas, and the game is slated to kick off at 2:15 Central and will be televised on ESPN. 

Further reading

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