SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State is refreshed and ready to get back to work.
Coming off of their first bye week of the season, the Aggies return to the friendly confines of Romney Stadium on Saturday when they host Hawaii. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
"Coming off of the bye week, it was just what the doctor ordered a little bit for all of us — as a staff and as a program," USU head coach Matt Wells said Monday during his weekly press conference, which was held at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. "We used it to refresh our bodies a little bit and we backed off a little bit on the amount of contact and some of the things we did from a practice standpoint.
"Hopefully, we've got these guys as fresh as they can be right now going into this stretch of the season. I feel confident that we do, the way we've practiced."
Recruiting was a big point of emphasis for Wells and his staff during the first of two bye weeks for the Aggies.
"We also used it as a big evaluation week for us. We had a lot of guys on the road — in state, out of state, high school, junior college — seeing guys through the weekend," Wells said. "So, we used it as a staff to really kind of catch back up and re-evaluate some of the guys that we've been in on and find some new ones.
"From that point, I think both of those things were very beneficial for us as we go into this week."
The Aggies also held an hour-long scrimmage for the younger players last Thursday. Several players stood out to Wells.
"I saw some flashes of (freshman) Tyshon Mosley, an offensive lineman from Jordan High, I liked (sophomore) Austin Stephens with some of the things he did at center," Wells said. "(Junior running back) Rashad Hall flashed a little bit at me."
Wells also singled out freshmen wide receivers Hayden Weichers and Tyler Weese, who prepped at Mountain Crest, and freshman safety Myron Turner.
Game time announced for UNLV
USU's game at UNLV on Nov. 9, will kick off at 6 p.m., it was announced Monday morning.
The game will be televised on ESPNU.
The Aggies and Rebels last met last season in Logan with USU rolling to a 35-13 victory.
Overall, the Aggies lead the all-time series with UNLV 13-7.
USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton underwent successful knee surgery last week to repair both the MCL and ACL he tore in the Aggies' 31-14 loss to BYU on Oct. 4.
"He's good," Wells said. "He's not real mobile yet, but he's moving around."
USU D among the best
Following their bye week, the Aggies now rank among the top 40 teams in the nation in 12 different statistical categories, including ranking 19th in total defense.
USU is limiting its opponents to just 345.1 yards of total offense per game to rank first in the Mountain West Conference and 19th in the nation. The Aggies are also first in the MW and 22nd in the nation in scoring defense (20.0 ppg), first in the MW and 31st in the nation in passing defense (212.1 ypg), second in the MW and 27th in the nation in rushing defense (133.0 ypg), second in the MW and 38th in the nation in passing efficiency defense (119.8), and tied for third in the MW and tied for 56th in the nation in sacks (2.1 pg).
Furthermore, USU’s defense has held its opponents to just 40 first downs on 130 third-down attempts (.308) to rank first in the league and 11th in the nation.
The Aggies also rank fifth in the nation in forcing three-and-outs on the year. USU has forced 49 three-and-outs on 107 drives, which averages out to 45.8 percent of the time and 6.13 per game.
Players of the Week
San Jose State quarterback David Fales was named the MW Offensive Player of the week, while Fresno State outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine and tight end Marcel Jensen earned defensive and special teams honors, respectively.
This is the second MW weekly accolade this season for Fales and first for both Ederaine and Jensen.
Fales, a senior, passed for a career-high 482 yards and five touchdowns, to go along with the game-winning TD run from a yard out in the Spartans’ 51-44 victory over Wyoming last Saturday.
Ederaine, a sophomore, recorded a career-high 10 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, as the Bulldogs outlasted San Diego State 35-28 in overtime.
With SDSU trailing 21-14 at the 11:39 mark of the fourth quarter and driving for a potential game-tying touchdown, Ederaine picked up an Aztecs fumble and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest fumble recovery for a score in school history.
Jensen, a senior, also played a key part in Fresno State’s victory. With the game tied at 28 and SDSU attempting a 37-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds remaining in regulation, Jensen blocked the kick and forced overtime.