The Utah State Aggies football team was at the precipice of the end of the world it seemed earlier this week in Tennessee's Neyland Stadium. Lost amid a sea of orange, the Aggies fell into a vast pit from which they never escaped.
To make matters worse--if anything could get worse in a 38-7 loss--Utah State then learned on Tues. Sept. 2 that it lost its best linebacker, junior Kyler Fackrell to an ACL tear suffered on Sunday in hostile Knoxville.
Not good for an Aggie team that relied on Fackrell to lead their defense--and certainly not good for Aggie coach Matt Wells, who in his second season as head coach got a good look into what life is like when you play games against teams from Power 5 conferences--it can resemble hell on Earth.
"It's a very humbling defeat and very eye-opening for us as a program. It's something I haven't gone through here and something we're not planning on going through anymore," Wells said Tuesday in his weekly press conference. "There are absolutely a lot of learning experiences for us, coaches included, that we can make adjustments on and get better at and we surely will."
Utah State already has two ways it can try to overcome the loss of Fackrell, who at 6-5 and 245 pounds had 82 tackles and five sacks last year for the 9-4 Aggies--and already had two tackles before he was injured early Sunday night.
There were bright spots in defense against Tennessee, particularly from linebackers Nick and Zach Vigil. The brothers from nearby Weber County combined for 25 tackles against the Vols--Nick had 15 and two of his tackles resulted in losses.
As for Zach, he is a senior and already the Aggies' unofficial leader on the field--more or less coaching the linebackers as they play--so life will go on, and despite losing one game in an orange hell of sorts, Utah State has not reached the end of the world.
Fackrell, who was slated to go pro after his junior year, may still do so. Or, he'll apply for a medical red shirt since he was injured in the first game of the season. Either way, it will be difficult for Utah State to adjust to life after Kyler--but it's not impossible. For proof, see the team post-Chuckie Keeton's torn ACL and MCL last year.
"It's hard see a guy, especially of his caliber, go through something like that since he is a guy that could potentially go to the NFL after this year. It's hard to see him go through that because he's a close friend," Nick Vigil said Tuesday. "It hurts us defensively, as he's arguably our best defensive player, but it's an opportunity for some younger guys who haven't played that much to step up."