As monumental as the BYU win in 2010 was, and as good as it felt to beat a team we all hate with such passion, that was only one of four wins that season. The momentum of the program is rolling a lot stronger now, and this 2012 Utah team is leaps and bounds better than that 2010 BYU team. We didn't come into the Utah game knowing we should win like we did for the big one in 2010. Beating the Utes was nothing short of a mountain to climb, and the Aggies battled all the way to the summit!
So let's talk a little bit more about some Utah State football.
LET'S TALK ABOUT GRATITUDE
Among all the postgame Facebook status updates Friday, perhaps none was better than that of Graham C. Terry's, which said, "Shoutout to all the Aggies who gave their all for Utah State during the Brent Guy era. You guys didn't get rewarded during your careers but you laid the groundwork for tonight. Salute."
That was beautiful to me, because there were a lot of players who came through USU during those years and still gave their all to try and help build this program. Say what you will about Brent Guy, but he made an impact in getting the rebuilding started with his commitment to recruit and play freshman rather than look for a quick fix with junior college recruits. It cost him wins, but it rebuilt the program from scratch, which is what needed to be done at that time.
Gary Andersen is undoubtedly the right coach to take Utah State to the next level. Guy was never going to be that coach, but he left Andersen with plenty to work with when he got here. Guys like Robert Turbin, Bobby Wagner, Curtis Marsh, Kyle Gallagher, Levi Koskan, Quinn Garner, Diondre Borel... All recruits brought here by Brent Guy and all key guys to Andersen's success throughout his first three seasons at Utah State.
There are tons others who gave their all during those years and helped the rebuilding begin. Some of them even had field passes and get to be down there celebrating on Friday, but it's just not the same when you're not one of the guys wearing a uniform. They still are a part of the USU football family, and they deserve some praise for helping steer this ship in the right direction.
LET'S TALK ABOUT FRESHMAN.... AND SOPHOMORES
One of the most encouraging things about the early part of this football season are the contributions being made by the young guys so far. Wade Denniston wrote a little piece for the Herald Journal the other day about the guys who did work in the Utah game, and it looks like these guys probably won't be slowing down. Let's bullet some of the freshman and sophomores who have been making an impact already...
- Kyler Fackrell has been a total beast at linebacker, tied for the team lead in tackles with 15 through two games.
- Jordan Nielsen had two sacks against Utah, putting him in the lead for the team through two games.
- Travis Seefeldt has solidified a spot in the rotation on the defensive line and came up with a huge fumble recovery in the first half of the Utah game.
- Joe Hill was unstoppable in the first game of the season against SUU and had a touchdown reception against Utah. Still averaging two touchdowns per game.
- Tavaris McMillian and Brian Suite both have six tackles apiece through two games, and both are better players than those statistics indicate. It's only a matter of time before they get theirs on the stat sheet too.
- Rashard Stewart has been impressive at defensive back too. Coaches have had plenty of praise for him since he's been here, so we likely will see plenty more good things from him.
- Both Jojo Natson and Brandon Swindall have seen a lot of reps out with the wide receivers. They each only have two catches, but that's understandable with Matt Austin, Chuck Jacobs, Travis Van Leeuwen and Travis Reynolds ahead of them.
- And then there's Chuckie Keeton... What else really needs to be said about him?
LASTLY, LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW FAR WE'VE COME
When I was a freshman in 2006, USU's first home game was again Utah. The first play of the game was a two-yard loss on the ground. The second play was intercepted by Utah and returned for a touchdown. The Aggies lost that game 48-0 and went on to win only one game that season.
Prior to Friday, the last time the Utes came to Logan was another 48-point loss, this time by a 58-10 final back in 2008.
There was a lengthy era of Utah State football where the Aggies were just a doormat for Utah... No longer. Even from last year when we were the team who had almost every game won but blew it in the last minutes, we've grown out of that dark era. This team is for real, and they seem to know that now. They beat one hell of a University of Utah football team tonight, solidifying this next step toward greatness.
I can't help but look back to not even one year ago when all our preseason hopes and hype had been ripped out of our chests again and again before the dominant finish to the season. I wrote a long, sappy, heartbroken piece on Aggie Pride in the form of a note on Facebook to try and keep my own, and everyone else's heads up. It still stands as possibly the most viewed thing I've ever written with 47 people sharing it to their own friends on Facebook and 87 total likes.
We stuck it out together after that and got the thrill of putting things together to finish that season strong and have carried it into this year too. Whether it's the blowout losses of our darkest days we struggled through, or the heartbreaks of yesteryear, it looks like we've made it through. Friday's win, this 2-0 start, and the overall atmosphere surrounding Utah State football is what we've been waiting for. It almost feels even more special at this point for how hard we had to battle through to get here, but that added emotion is what you earn with that persistence. What matters though is that we're finally being rewarded.
It's not just hype anymore. It's real. It's happening. Utah State football has officially arrived!!!