USU reloads with Cross
NINTH IN A SERIES
Utah State football coach Brent Guy likes to talk about explosive plays, meaning long-gainers of 20-plus yards.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, they had many more explosives blow up in their own faces in Guy's first season as head coach last year.
Utah State was near the bottom of the NCAA in both points scored (18.9, 99th) and points allowed (32.7, 103rd) on the way to a 3-8 record and eighth straight losing season.
Guy hopes to solve some of that by bringing in one of the top running backs from the JUCO ranks, Marcus Cross.
Cross carried for 1,163 yards last fall as a JC honorable mention All-America choice.
"He's 205 pounds and the fastest guy on the team in the spring. He's very versatile, he can be a fast runner and outrun the leverage, he's also very good inside the tackles. Marcus hits the hole, gets to the safety for a 10-yard gain," Guy said.
"He's showing some toughness. Terrance (safety Washington) knocked the helmet off him. He bounced right back up, patted Terrance on the back and went to the huddle. He can turn a 6-yard run into a 20-yard run."
That's good news for quarterback Leon Jackson III, who had to run a lot because USU didn't have an effective ground-game threat.
Jackson will be busy enough. Guy said his quarterback will share punting duties with kicker Justin Hamblin.
A player other than a running back led the Aggies in rushing in nine of 11 games last fall.
Right guard Pace Jorgensen leads an offensive line that will try to help change that in 2006.
Receivers Kevin Robinson and Tony Pennyman will remain multiple-threat guys. They combined for 106 catches last year, and Pennyman returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and Robinson did so with a punt.
The defense will try to make it so Robinson has more opportunities than Pennyman.
The secondary is Taylor-made, with safeties Caleb and Antonio and cornerback Josh all sharing that surname, and all expected to start or contribute on passing downs.
A fourth Taylor, Ryan, joins Jake Hutton (team-leading 87 tackles) in the linebacker corps.
Freshman defensive end Jon Overton, a Punahou graduate, could get some playing time since USU must replace three starters in the front.
Kahuku graduate E.J. Reid, is the lone returnee, at tackle. He is expected to play a big part in Utah State allowing significantly less than the 405.6 yards per game it yielded in 2005.
That's a lot of explosives.
UTAH STATE AGGIES
2005 record: 3-8
Starters returning: 14
Head coach: Brent Guy (3-8 in one season at Utah State)
Last meeting with UH: Hawaii 50, New Mexico State 23, Nov. 12, 2005, at Aloha Stadium
||San Jose St.
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||at San Jose St.
||at Louisiana Tech
||at Boise St.
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