Warrior foe seeking respect
|||Utah State offense in no rush|
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
For today's game against host Hawai'i, the Utah State football team traveled 30 miles by bus from Logan to Salt Lake City on Thursday, then boarded a charter for the 6 1/2-hour flight to Ho-nolulu.
"When you don't have to take a football team through airports to change planes or go through a layover, it's going to be obviously an easier trip," said Brent Guy, USU's first-year head coach. "We needed to charter. This is the toughest road trip there is."
The road to respectability can be even more difficult. Similar to New Mexico State and Idaho, the Aggies are experiencing a sort of freshman hazing as Western Athletic Conference newcomers. The three schools are a combined 4-21; the Aggies are 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the WAC.
"The biggest thing for us is we have to learn to win on the road," said Guy, referring to the 0-4 away record. "We're trying to build a winning program. You cannot have a winning program if you cannot win on the road. If you can win on this road trip, you can win any of them. It doesn't get any tougher than this."
Guy has been on fast-forward since being named head coach last Dec. 10. At the time, Guy was Arizona State's defensive coordinator.
As ASU prepared for a Dec. 31 bowl game, Guy coached the Sun Devils during the day and designed his Utah State plans at night. He did not join the Aggies full-time until Jan. 1.
Despite a full recruiting class boosted by nine players returning from church missions, the Aggies have less than 70 players on scholarship. He said it will take "at least three years" to reach the NCAA limit of 85 scholarship players.
Twenty freshmen have played this season; there are 14 seniors.
"Where our problems lie is in our sophomore and junior classes," Guy said.
Guy said he will focus primarily on high school recruits. The Aggies are trying to establish recruiting bases in California, Nevada and Texas. Three coaches are assigned to recruit in Texas; there are eight Texans on the team.
"We think we're getting things in place," Guy said. "We wish we had a couple of more wins. We've had some opportunities to win more games."
The Warriors, meanwhile, are using the final three games — the WAC finale against Utah State, and non-conference games against Wisconsin and San Diego State — as building blocks. Last week's loss eliminated the Warriors (3-6 and 3-4 in the WAC) from postseason consideration.
"These last three games are what it's all about," UH quarterback Colt Brennan said. "It's about our growth and our development. ... We're winning these next three games. That's the goal. That's always the goal.
"I think with the pressure off, and the fact that we've been through the dumps, and the fact that we have good team morale and we like each other, we're going in with a positive attitude. And we want to see these seniors go off on the right note. You're going to see a lot of good football played by us these next few weeks because of that."
This season, there have been new starters at the six ball-handling positions on offense. The Warriors also have had to adjust to the switch to new defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville's blitzing schemes out of a 3-4 formation.
"With so many question marks, including me, we didn't know how things would work out," Brennan said. "It was good to go through this experience for one year. We made mistakes — I know I've made mistakes — but this is a season we won't have to deal with again. We won't ever have to go through this again. It's over. From then on out, we're going to be better. I'm excited to go out there the next few weeks and show everybody how good we can be, and get ready for next season."
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.