The first bye week of the 2019 college football season came earlier than normal for the Aggies, but it was a productive one.

“First of all, we spent some time with the young kids, which was great,” Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said during Monday’s press conference. “You know, you go through camp and everybody gets reps, and the young kids kind of (end up) on the prep teams and they don’t get as much individual time with our coaches, so we took some time doing that, which was great for the young kids and for the coaches.

“Our priority was San Diego State throughout the bye week, and we gained as much of an advantage as we could using the bye week with the two games (of film) that we had on them.”

Indeed, USU has two full weeks to prepare for arguably one of its biggest games of the season. The Aggies will travel to Southern California this weekend to square off against one of the premier programs in the Mountain West, San Diego State, in the conference opener for both teams.

The Aggies have struggled mightily in their limited series against the Aztecs as SDSU has won 10 straight games since USU prevailed 31-25 on Nov. 25, 1967. San Diego State has reigned supreme in the three games between the two programs this decade by 34, 34 and 37 points, respectively.

Last week was a good opportunity for a handful of Aggies with nagging injuries to get some much-needed rest.

Unfortunately for USU, cornerbacks Cameron Haney, Zahodri Jackson and Terin Adams still might not be ready to play against SDSU. Jackson and Adams didn’t play in USU’s 62-7 drubbing of Stony Brook in Week 2, and Haney, a projected starter heading into the season, has yet to play. Haney was listed as a backup to true freshman Cam Lampkin on the most recent depth chart.

“I don’t think so,” Andersen said when asked if the bye week helped with the overall health of USU’s secondary. “At this point I think we’ll have the guys we have. We may get one back, we’ll see how we go through the week of practice, but we’ll go with the guys we’ve got out there and (the injured guys are) working hard to get themselves back on the field.”

When asked about the health of third-string quarterback Andrew Peasley, Andersen essentially declined to comment. Peasley appeared to suffer either an ankle, foot or knee injury in the second half of the Stony Brook game.

Andersen was also asked about the timing of the two bye weeks this year. USU’s second bye will take place following its road game against LSU on Oct. 5. This means the Aggies will have games in seven consecutive weeks to close out the regular season, with a possibility of eight straight weeks should they advance to the Mountain West championship contest.

Andersen stressed “I don’t think it really matters who you’re playing, it’s how you use the bye.” However, he didn’t seem bothered USU’s first bye was after the second full week of college football.

“Seeing where they are this year, we’re going to take them where they fall and we’re never going to say that they’re in a bad spot, but these seem to be in a pretty good spot,” Andersen said. “And a lot of people say it’s week three, that we had a bye after two games, but these kids have been at it for a long, long time. You know, their bodies have been banging around for a few months here.”

KEEGAN DUNCAN

Duncan, the reigning Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year and former Boise State Bronco, will officially be an Aggie next season. He made the announcement Sunday on Twitter.

“Can’t wait to get back on the field as a UTAH STATE AGGIE,” Duncan posted.

Duncan was part of the Boise State’s 2019 recruiting class, but elected to enter the transfer portal last month. Rumors that Duncan was transferring to USU began to surface a few days later, and they were confirmed by Brian Phillips of 247sports.com on Aug. 28.

The two-time Idaho 2A Player of the Year blew out his knee during fall camp at Boise State and had surgery to repair his ACL last Wednesday, he told the Idaho Statesman in an article that ran Sunday. Duncan has already enrolled at USU.

Duncan was unstoppable during his last three years at Declo High School. The Hornets went undefeated his junior and senior seasons. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound running back rushed for 2,041 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior, caught 19 passes for 595 yards and 13 TDs, threw for four more scores and returned three punts, two kickoffs and a pair of interceptions to the house — giving him 51 total TDs in 12 games.

Duncan led Declo to three victories over Cache Valley 2A power West Side as a junior and senior, and rushed for an astounding 446 yards against the Pirates in a 2A semifinal showdown as a junior. Duncan, who racked up 384 total yards against West Side in the 2A semis as a senior, was also a dominant defensive player for the Hornets.

Not only was Duncan bigger than most opposing offensive and defensive linemen, he was an elite sprinter. Duncan captured the 2A title in the 200-meter dash as a sophomore and junior, and was the runner-up in that event as a senior. Additionally, Duncan finished in the top three in the 100 three years in a row, and was the champion as a sophomore.

MW WEEKLY AWARDS

Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond III was selected as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week after completing seven passes for a career-best 155 yards and a pair of TDs in his team’s 30-23 road triumph over Colorado last Saturday. The junior also rushed for 22 yards and another score.

AFA safety Jeremy Fejedelem was named the league’s Defensive POTW after recording a career-high 14 tackles, including 12 of the solo variety and 2.0 for a loss, and 1.0 sack against Colorado. The senior helped limit the Buffaloes to 325 total yards.

Nevada’s Brandon Talton was tabbed the MW Special Teams POTW after booting four field goals in his team’s 19-13 win over visiting Weber State. The freshman connected on FGs of 34, 25, 30 and 36 yards.

jturner@hjnews.com Twitter: hjtrebek

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.