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LOGAN -- The Utah State Homecoming game did not end the way Aggie faithful would have hoped, but there are still games left on the schedule for head coach Gary Andersen and his squad. True-freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton needs to find a way to keep his mates clicking the way they have all season; the Aggies are averaging 42.0 points and 316.0 rushing yards per game which puts them 14th and 5th in the nation respectively. While USU opponents may be averaging less points then the Aggies (31.3 points per game), Utah State's average is helped by their 54 point output against Weber State.
This Friday against the Cougars of Brigham Young, Coach Andersen will have his hands full on defense and on offense. The Cougars are currently ranked 66th in the nation with 223.3 passing yards per game, which could be a problem for the Aggies who have been known to give up big passing plays while shutting down opponents ground games. BYU's running backs haven't been able to get going the way head coach Bronco Mendenhall would like, and the way Utah State's front seven have been dominating the opposition, don't expect those statistics to change much.
What did we learn about USU against Colorado State?
- Utah State seems to be able to run the ball against whomever may be on the other side of the ball. Junior running back Robert Turbin has rushed for 365 yards on the season with eight touchdowns. Turbin has rushed for at least two scores in each of the Aggies first three games. Senior running back Michael Smith has rushed for 180 yards on only twenty carries for an average of 9.0 yards per carry including one touchdown, while junior running back Kerwynn Williams has rushed for 170 yards on 19 carries and two rushing scores. Against CSU the Aggie trio had 115, 77, 36 yards rushing respectively, with Turbin scoring four times on the ground with Williams adding one of his own. BYU's front seven is talented as well but that shouldn't keep USU offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin from being aggressive on the ground.
- The Aggies are dangerous when Kerwynn Williams is returning punts and kicks, when he is not, there are problems. Twice the Utah State defense had stopped the Rams cold only to have the punts muffed and turned over to CSU with excellent field position. Coach Andersen needs to find a way to keep his electric playmaking kick-returner on the field.
What questions do we have about USU?
- Will the Aggies throw the ball against BYU? The Cougars allowed 318 yards passing against UCF and with their front seven playing the way they are, it should spell a big game for Chuckie Keeton. One could say (while looking at an extremely limited study) that USU needs Keeton to throw touchdowns. In Utah State's lone win this season, Keeton threw for two scores and rushed for one more. In that same win Keeton completed 10-15 passes for 166 yards and rushed for 53 yards on just nine carries. That was of course the same game where the USU running backs rushed for 440 yards and four scores themselves. The Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel will be a great test for Keeton and his future.
- As was said earlier, Utah State seems to be able to run on anyone, but can they run on BYU? The Aggies offensive line has shown that they are able to enforce their will on the opposition, including #23 ranked Auburn in the season opener. As important of a game as this is for Chuckie Keeton, it's just as important for the offensive line to prove they can open up holes and protect their quarterback against anyone.
What can USU expect from Brigham Young?
This has been a very up and down season so far for the Cougars therefore planning for them will be difficult for Gary Andersen and his staff. Expect the Aggies to put pressure on sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps and lock the door on the rush game. Brigham Young offensive coordinator Brandon Doman has said that he would like to get the BYU running backs more involved in the offense but has been put under much pressure by Cougar fans to throw the ball more. It's difficult to say what Utah State should be looking for.
What can we expect from USU vs. BYU?
When looking at the two sidelines and overall statistics, it would be easy to say that the Aggies are looking at a victory but rivalries are never easy. A perfect example is this same rivalry game last season when it was expected that the Cougars would stroll in and out of Logan with an easy victory and the Aggies stunned BYU, winning 31-16. This will be an exciting game.
- Friday marks the 81st time the two teams will meet, both school's second-longest series history. BYU leads the all-time series 43-34-3.
- Utah State is one of 14 teams in the nation with a perfect 100% on red zone trips (12-12). The Aggies are the only team of those 14 with double-digit rushing touchdowns. They are one of three teams of those same 14 without a red zone passing touchdown.
- In each of their first three games Utah State has rushed for five touchdowns, equaling 15 rushing scores on the season (which is 4th in the FBS). USU's 5.0 rushing touchdowns per game ranks second behind Georgia Tech's 5.3.
- Utah State senior linebacker Bobby Wagner is short eight tackles to crack into the USU top ten Career Tackles list. Wagner currently has 309 career tackles.
- Junior running back Robert Turbin now has 29 career rushing touchdowns which ties him for third on USU's career rushing TD list. Turbin also now has 2,163 career rushing yards which puts him 43 yards short of number seven on the Career yards list.
Aggie faithful just might need to hold their collective breaths this Friday in Provo and for good reason. This game could go either way and will most likely come down to which team has the ball last. Coach Andersen will need to pull out some kinks on both offense and defense for the victory this week.