Lessons learned in Las Vegas

It’s no 24 hours after Utah State opened the 2008 season with (another) defeat to get things started. That’s four losses in as many season-openers for coach Brent Guy.

With a little time to reflect on what happened at Sam Boyd Stadium, here are a few observations about the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty of Week 1.

The Good: Sean Setzer had a great first quarter. He was agressive, accurate and marched the Aggies downfield effectively. He was 9-of-10 for 130 yards in the first stanza and it would have been a perfect 10-for-10 had his incomplete pass not been stripped out of the hands of the receiver.

The Bad: Maybe it was the play calling, maybe it was defensive pressure. Maybe it was a combination of the two. But Setzer struggled in the second quarter and first possession of the third — completing only one more pass — and ended the game on the sidelines when Guy, as he said he would, gave sophomore Diondre Borel a shot.

The Ugly: Utah State gained less than 100 total yards during the second and third quarters when the offense went MIA. UNLV took control of the game at that time.

The Pretty: Running back Robert Turbin didn’t exactly set the place on fire with his rushing totals. But his gutsy dive into the end zone on a fourth-and-one play showed he and the Aggies aren’t afraid to gamble a little bit. With plenty of time left, it also showed Guy might have a little faith in his offense. he easily could have chosen the ‘safe’ play of a chip-shot field goal.

The Good: Borel energized the Aggies with his quickness and scrambling ability. Once he entered the game there was a totally different feel to the offense and UNLV struggled to adapt.

The Bad: UNLV was able to counter that by churning out the yards behind tailback Frank Summers. After a slow start, the Rebels turned it up and punished what seemed to be a disorganized Aggie defense that left holes, gaps and seems for UNLV to pick apart.

The Ugly: Borel’s running was exciting, but it quickly became predictable. Guy mentioned how the youngster pulled the ball down too quickly at times and never gave his team a chance to run passing routes or set up blocking lanes. With the first game jitters out of the way, however, Borel might show improvement.

The Pretty: After figuring out that a one-step drop followed by a run wasn’t always the best option, Borel settled down and had a decent fourth quarter passing the ball.

With of the few ‘winnable’ game now marked as a loss and a rough stretch of games at Oregon and against Utah and BYU on the horizon, Utah State has a very real probabillity of opening the season with a 1-4 record.

That one win might not be a given at all, but considering it’s against Idaho — which lost 70-0 to Arizona on Saturday — 1-4 might be as good as it gets.

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