Utah State inside linebacker Zach Vigil has blown up this season. After just playing mostly in 3rd down packages last year until his season was cut short by injury, his caliber of play so far this season can be summed up using a phrase coined by the great Mugatu: “So hot right now”.
When Bobby Wagner graduated and left for the big show, all eyes were on talented sophomore Tavaris McMillian to fill the giant void left in the middle of the field. Then out of nowhere came Zach Vigil. The former walk-on beat out McMillian for the starting nod and has turned plenty of heads in the process. After blocking a punt to give the Aggies an early touchdown lead over the Utah Utes a few weeks ago, Vigil began his ascent into prominence. So impressed by Vigil’s play in the big win over Utah, Bobby Wagner tweeted, “Z vig is ballin!” Vigil finished the Utah game with 10 total stops, and nearly ended the game in overtime himself with an impressive pass deflection and near interception.
Since the Utah game, he has continued to impress. Vigil set up the Aggies 2nd score at Wisconsin by sacking quarterback Danny O’Brien, forcing a fumble that fellow linebacker Jake Doughty recovered deep in Badger territory. Zach then enjoyed a big day at Colorado State that upped his team-leading sack and TFL total to 3.0 and 5.5, respectively.
As remarkable as Vigil’s play has been, he is just a small, yet important, cog in a defensive unit that is quickly gaining respect. The Aggie defense enters the 5th week of the season ranked 11th nationally in total defense. Some have been shocked by the monumental upswing in progress given the loss of several starters from a year ago, including a pair of stellar inside linebackers in Wagner and Kyle Gallagher. But depth up front, coupled with experience in the back end, has made for dominant defensive play unseen in Romney Stadium in a long time. Aggie fans are excited to see what Vigil and the stout Aggie defense have in store for the rest of the season.
The next test the Aggie D faces is against the Rebels of UNLV. 3rd down stops will be crucial as the Rebels are ranked 17th nationally in 3rd down conversion percentage, converting 52.1% of their 3rd down opportunities. The game is slated to take place this Saturday, the 29th, at 6 PM in Romney Stadium. It is Utah State’s homecoming game and has been tabbed as a “white out”, which means fans are encouraged to wear their Fighting White instead of the traditional Aggie Blue.