Season-opener in the mirror

Numbers, statistics and charts are what make Monday morning — or in this case, Friday morning — quarterbacking fun.

Utah State’s season-opening loss to Utah Thursday gave Aggie fans plenty of numbers to chew on, stew on and contemplate as USU spend the next two weeks preparing for Texas A&M.

Most likely, Aggie fans will look at the numbers, look at the effort and look at the results trying to see exactly how the 2009 Utah State football team is different than the 2008 USU squad.

How’s this for starters? Robert Turbin’s 96-yard run up the middle for a touchdown was USU’s longest ever rush. It was also nearly four times as many yards as the entire team gained against the Utes in 2008.

Turbin finished the game with a career-high 148 rushing yards. The Aggies had 27 against Utah the last time the two schools met.

The Aggie defense gave up 31 points to Utah — the same number of points the Utes scored against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

In 2008, the Aggies scored first – just as they did in 2009 — but then allowed the Utes to score 30 unanswered points. After a USU field goal, Utah then closed the game out with another 28 unanswered points. This year? Utah’s longest scoring streak was 14 points. If USU wants to see improvement, that might be as telling as anything — the team didn’t lay down and give up.

A year ago, with Diondre Borel and Sean Stezer splitting time at QB, the Aggies had only 89 yards of passing offense. As shaky as Borel seemed Thursday night — he was just 10-of-26, after all — USU had 121 yards of passing and 342 overall. In 2008, the Aggies had only 116 yards of total offense.

Not all was better, though.

While the 2-for-12 3rd-down conversion rate in 2008 was nothing to feel good about, it sure looks better than the 0-for-12 posted at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Aggies, on paper and to the eye, looked like a much improved football team.

But being improved matters precious little at the end of the game if the scoreboard still shows you on the wrong side.

Losing by 18 looks a lot better than losing by 48.

But, as new Utah State coach Gary Andersen was quick to point out, it was still a loss.

That said, with continued improvement, continued confidence and some opponents not quite as challenging as the Utes, there may, indeed, be more wins in the future.

And Texas A&M, as historically proud as the school might be, is not nearly as tough as Utah.

‘Experts’ much smarter than me say the most improvement a football team makes is from Week 1 to Week 2. Andersen now has a real game to review and two weeks to make his adjustments.

Texas A&M, which hosts New Mexico Saturday, also has two weeks to get ready for Utah State.

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